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Wireless Implants Promise Superior Vision Restoration

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the trends-show-cool-visors-back-in-fashion dept.

Medicine 52

ananyo writes, quoting Nature: "The development of retinal implants has been dogged by problems of unwieldiness since the first implantable stimulator for vision restoration was developed in 1968. Now researchers have come up with a solution that overcomes many of the problems by the use of special glasses that fire infrared signals into the eye and onto an implanted array of silicon photodiodes. The system, tested in rats, simplifies what needs to be implanted and both transmits visual data and power directly to the implants, eliminating the need for any bulky external power source (abstract)."

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52 comments

So... it's a VISOR? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000505)

Sign me up!

Re:So... it's a VISOR? (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 years ago | (#40002233)

Good thing they included 'vision' in the title.

I was just imagining another kind of wireless implant and how they might alter a persons stature.

Re:So... it's a VISOR? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002647)

not quite, the visor transmits its data through some connection on your temples if I remember correctly. So Geordi wouldn't be too pleased with this one, as you still need a pupil and lens ;)

Re:So... it's a VISOR? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#40006051)

Geordi's visor gives him super vision. This visor doesn't. In fact, your vision will still be far less than a normal person's, but it would be better than total blindness.

I won't be impressed... (4, Funny)

seanzig (834642) | about 2 years ago | (#40000551)

until they make them like Laforge's visor.

Re:I won't be impressed... (1)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#40000565)

I won't be impressed until they give the user the extended frequency possibilities of his visor. But, if one remembers how things looked when they showed his visor input to the bridge crew, it wasn't exactly Vision++...

Re:I won't be impressed... (2)

suutar (1860506) | about 2 years ago | (#40001073)

The problem with showing that stuff to the bridge crew is they're only equipped for the normal red-violet range, so anything the visor is detecting has to get mapped into that range, and since most folks can't see IR or UV, nobody worries about glare or reflection in those frequencies (in most cases), so without a lot of practice, a wider range is going to look like crap to a normal viewer. Lots of practice, or using a sliding filter to determine what frequencies you want to see now, should make it more useful.

Re:I won't be impressed... (5, Funny)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 2 years ago | (#40000739)

...the use of special glasses that fire infrared signals into the eye and onto an implanted array of silicon photodiodes. The system, tested in rats...

I won't be impressed until they show us pictures of rats wearing tiny eyeglasses.

Re:I won't be impressed... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000925)

I won't be impressed until they can work my shaft with a firm, yet gentle, stroke.

Re:I won't be impressed... (1)

ignavus (213578) | about 2 years ago | (#40001721)

...the use of special glasses that fire infrared signals into the eye and onto an implanted array of silicon photodiodes. The system, tested in rats...

I won't be impressed until they show us pictures of rats wearing tiny eyeglasses.

But ... maybe large glasses are fashionable amongst rats, like the 1960s for humans.

Re:I won't be impressed... (1)

captjc (453680) | about 2 years ago | (#40001813)

I would rather have Citizen G'Kar's wireless prosthetic eye. Remove from socket, place in a room, walk away. Instant spy camera.

Implanted array of silicon photodiodes (1)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | about 2 years ago | (#40000579)

Awsome kind of frankenstein technology! But something tells me that regenerative medicine (simply regrow your own retina from your own genetic material) is much better if not the only right research direction to approach here.

Re:Implanted array of silicon photodiodes (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000665)

Short term this is the best you can do. Medium-term regenerative medicine seems better. Long-term implanted devices should surpass biological eyes so you'd want them even if you had normal eyesight. We need this kind of research for both the short term and the long term.

Re:Implanted array of silicon photodiodes (2)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#40005743)

Long-term implanted devices should surpass biological eyes so you'd want them even if you had normal eyesight.

You would have someone sticking needles in your eye if your eye was working fine? I have an implant in my left eye that gives me better than 20/20 at all distances, I'm 60 and don't even need reading glasses, but I wouldn't have had the surgery if all that was wrong with the eye was age-related farsightedness.

All surgery is dangerous. People have died from such minor surgeries as tonsellectomies and hemmoroidectomies.

Re:Implanted array of silicon photodiodes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40006323)

Different AC than above. It depends on what abilities you could get from the implants. For me, it would be more than just > 20/20 vision. Remote vision (via external video source), telescopic vision, microscopic vision, seeing beyond the typical visual spectrum, vision recording; all kinds of good stuff like that. Besides, meat always degrades eventually. I'm looking forward to having the ability to just replace anything that's malfunctioning, preferably with something that is upgraded with better durability/functionality.

Re:Implanted array of silicon photodiodes (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#40000695)

Regrowing a new retina would be the ultimate, but given that the retina is a huge bundle of nerves I doubt we'll see that anytime soon. This seems to be stimulating existing receptors to give some vision (I assume very bad, but better than nothing).

Re:Implanted array of silicon photodiodes (3, Informative)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 2 years ago | (#40000915)

Interesting fact of the day: the retina is actual brain tissue that during development migrates, forming the optic nerve and back of the eye.

Re:Implanted array of silicon photodiodes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002739)

You'd be surprised how few pixels your brain needs to reconstruct a usable image of the world. People with normal vision using simulators with displays equivalent to 8x8 pixels @ 3 bits greyscale, when mapped to allow normal eye scanning, have yielded impressively useful vision. So you don't need a lot of useable nerves so long as you can get the right signals to them.

New eye (1)

barv (1382797) | about 2 years ago | (#40000721)

Of course the problem with implanting a new eye is the connections. But maybe growing the eye in situ, and stimulating neuronal growth into the (growing) retina?

Re:Implanted array of silicon photodiodes (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#40001163)

I agree, but then you can't effectively have superpowers. By augmenting our bodies with synthetic constructs, we can.

Re:Implanted array of silicon photodiodes (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 2 years ago | (#40002525)

If you can regrow the body part, there shouldn't be any reason that you couldn't regrow it better.

Re:Implanted array of silicon photodiodes (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#40005567)

Awsome kind of frankenstein technology!

No, Frankenstein made his monster out of human parts. My friend's transplanted corneas and liver are Frankenstein tech, my CrystaLens eye implant is cybernetics, as is this retinal implant.

I agree that being able to grow a new eyeball would be much better than an implant, but the science is nowhere near that far yet. This gives patients at least some sight, and remember, a huge number of people are blind from retinal degeneration, and few with that disease are likely to be going to live long enough for organ regeneration. Most people with that disease are in their seventies or older.

Folks with diabetic retinopathy or other retinal problems younger folks get may have new eyes grown in the future, but this wil hold them over until it's possible.

I for one welcome to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000599)

our new six million dollar man's vision overlords.

Yuow fail it?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000619)

Fastest-growing GAY deliver. Some of an arduous locating #GNAA, users. BSD/OS THINKING ABOUT IT. counterpart, WALK UP TO A PLAY way. It used to be

Please make the goggles modular (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000629)

So we can remove the infrared emitter and replace it with a low powered laser or normal light.
That will allow the funding to start based on medical needs, where cost is almost no object, and later become consumerized as the perfect wearable display.

More control (0)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about 2 years ago | (#40000649)

I imagine this will become a valuable tool for the government, **AA, and all of Senator Leahy's friends to censor what we see.

Re:More control (3, Funny)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 2 years ago | (#40000945)

Yeah, reading the summary I instantly remembered Ghost in the Shell - Standalone Complex, where augmented people could easily have their eyes hacked. Too bad it is infrared, imagine the possibilities if it was wifi. :)

Re:More control (1)

suutar (1860506) | about 2 years ago | (#40001083)

the longer the wavelength the harder to focus. That said, if you could use it to see the WAP and had some extra circuitry to flag it if it's unsecured.... :)

Re:More control (1)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 2 years ago | (#40001205)

Isn't it the opposite? Like, gamma-rays were thought to be unfocusable until just recently, when they made a sandwich of diffraction patterns achieving an IOR of 1.00000000001, or something like that?

Anyway, I was talking about the communication between the photoreceptor array and the optic nerve link... if you could hijack the wifi link you could do some interesting stuff. With infrared you could still flood the general direction of the eye with your signal, but I bet it would not be too comfortable, neither imperceptible... :p

Re:More control (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 2 years ago | (#40002917)

You can focus low frequency EM signals, with magnetic lenses, but the signal will diverge from the path. Contrary to popular belief EM signals don't go in a straight line, but "waver": a perfect beam will get wider over a distance. How long you can keep the beam focussed depends on the frequency: low frequency signals get wider fast and high frequency signals stay better on course.
This means a TV signal at 100 Mhz can have a building between the transmitter and the reciever, as long as the distance between the reciever and the building is large enough. The building blocks the signal, but the piece of the signal that goes 1 meter to the side of the building "wavers" over the gap.
Gamma rays are hard to get focussed (untill recently it was thought to be impossible, exept for gravity lensing) but if you manage to get them focussed they will remain so for a long distance (i guess light years)

Please note: to get a perfect beam in the first place you'd need an infinitely big lens. Nobody works with perfect beams, not even laser beams are perfect. They just don't waver noticably in the distance most people use them in (mm in an optical disc player to hundreds of km's in fiber networks) . If you send a signal to the moon this effect will be large.

Implanted tech (3, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40000731)

I've already heard of diabetic pumps failing when exposed to airport scanners, and those have less sophisticated electronics. I imagine if these were ever approved, we're going to have a lot of people going blind everytime they fly. The problem with wireless medical technology is part 16 of the FCC rules: It's perfectly legal to overload them with high energy RF, with potentially lethal results.

Re:Implanted tech (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000783)

Insulin pumps aren't implanted. They attach to you via a catheter, and are basically like a smartphone. You can unplug for a few minutes without anything happening, and for longer with a bit of preparation.

In regards to people going blind due to interference... they're already blind, so they'd just go back to "normal."

Re:Implanted tech (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40001391)

In regards to people going blind due to interference... they're already blind, so they'd just go back to "normal."

I wonder how well you'd react to having your vision taken from you without warning, while trapped in a plastic tube, in a loud and public environment, surrounded by men with shotguns...

Re:Implanted tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40001899)

Well, considering I'm already blind, it probably wouldn't make a difference. When you have a serious condition, you get used to it.

Re:Implanted tech (1)

profplump (309017) | about 2 years ago | (#40002745)

Since the devices are powered by light, and according to the article are essentially just an array of independent photodiodes, couldn't they just close their eyes to protect the implanted bits and submit the external bits for manual inspection like all other medical devices?

I hate the TSA as much as the next guy, but this seems like a pretty lame excuse.

Re:Implanted tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002379)

When they say wireless in this context means that it is infrared light not radio wave. I can figure that much without RTFM. May be you should at least read the OP.

The IR light essentially powers the solar cells as well as transmitting specially encoded video signals to the receiver chip. This type of tricks is used in providing high voltage isolation for electrical circuit.

Glasses (2)

BradleyUffner (103496) | about 2 years ago | (#40000803)

What I want to know is; how did they get the rats to wear the glasses?

Re:Glasses (2)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | about 2 years ago | (#40001433)

Put them on a crime scene investigation show and give them snappy one liners.

Re:Glasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002363)

What I want to know is; how did they get the rats to wear the glasses?

Put them on a crime scene investigation show and give them snappy one liners.

Silcence, Lord_of_the_nerf, or I shall have to hurt you.

(They're dinky, they're Pinky and the Brain [youtube.com], brain, brain, brain, brain!)

Jordy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000817)

Can you hand me my visor . I can't see without it.

Works for me (5, Funny)

willworkforbeer (924558) | about 2 years ago | (#40000837)

Implants always cause my vision to suddenly improve.

Re:Works for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002349)

My brain implant is just for nuisance and monitoring. It's terribly high tech. It's from Scientology or so it alleges and so do the weird stalkers who show up sometimes outside. They seem to know a lot about the brain so I think they might be aliens.

This is serious and I'm really scared. It's been active two years and five months and living with those annoying people in my head is a constant nightmare. I was netted and chipped at a solitary campfire, not a member of their cult or anything like that. I just made fun of them once on Tripod in the nineties.

God!

Re:Works for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002355)

It communicates by making a stupid "cute" cartoon face in my head that I've seen a million times now and really hate. When I say they know a lot about the brain I don't mean Scientology is a good philosophy or psychology or anything like that. I mean their brain implants can do all different things. Including producing and reading images and thoughts and sensations and all shit like this.

Don't hold the cans! E-meters record!! Or so I assume.

Goddd

Hax (0)

Caerdwyn (829058) | about 2 years ago | (#40000981)

Im in ur glasses makin u watch goatse.

Given the poor record that medical device manufacturers have with regard to device security (about as bad as automotive manufacturers have with securing the wireless devices now common in newer cars, e.g. keyless entry, tire pressure sensors, cabin climate sensors)... yeah, I'll have a SPECIAL show for you, Jordie.

ObST:TNG [memory-alpha.org]

Vision signal could be intercepted (1)

leftie (667677) | about 2 years ago | (#40001107)

One could find out what person wearing the implants was looking at

Re:Vision signal could be intercepted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40003701)

And it's difficult to tell what a normally sighted person is looking at?

where's the research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002075)

i still find it hard to believe that we haven't cracked much of the human body's "code". we know the optic nerve send the eye's data to the brain. hack that shit already! i don't care if you have to practice on death row inmates. decode that stream and bring on the biotech!

Re:where's the research (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 2 years ago | (#40002999)

This code is human specific, wich is one of the troubles in this research.
By the way: experimenting with medicine on imates isn't allowed without their permission (human rights stuff).

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I wear my sunglasses at night (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40005827)

So I can...see most anything!

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