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Bionic Retinas Give Patients Sight

chrisd posted more than 12 years ago | from the implants-don't-poop-as-much-as-seeing-eye-dogs dept.

News 199

The Noof writes " Yahoo News is running a story about patients who have been given partial sight thanks to implants of silicon-based bionic retinas. " The article notes that the implant is having a "rescue effect" on the other components of the retina, restoring cells around the implant and making them useful again." Amazing stuff.

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We have the technology (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488252)

We can save him.

Lose the arm.

Hello? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488278)

The Six Million Dollar Man is off-topic?

Robocop is off-topic?

Beam me up! I yield back these bionic eyes for a pair of bifocals.

I can't wait till the trolls start spamming (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488258)

goatse.cx links to them. they will wish they were still the blind

Was I the only one...? (3, Funny)

doorbot.com (184378) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488263)

For some reason, I read this story's title as "Bionic Retinas Give Patents Sight" which I thought was a reference to issuing/implanting bionic retinas in USPTO employees so that they would be better able to read the rediculous patents which cross their desks.

Maybe I could use a set of bionic retinas...

Re:Was I the only one...? (2, Insightful)

JPawloski (546146) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488402)

This is definitely cool stuff. Another step closer to cyborgs. :)

They only mention that this has been tested on people that have lost their vision - wonder if it'd do anything for people born blind?

I'd like to see more science articles like this on the front page of slashdot!

Re:Was I the only one...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488530)

I see you've finally figured out how cut and paste works...

Re:Was I the only one...? (1)

xWeston (577162) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488540)

I'd assume it'd depend on the reason the person had blindness. For many, im sure that their retinas are indeed fine, but what is the problem is the optic nerve. In fact, one of my friends friends (chain rule) lost his sight from some sort of pressure on his brain that he got from hitting his head, it pinched off the nerve and killed it. Now all we need is synthetic optic nerves!

Re:Was I the only one...? (3, Interesting)

Oculus Habent (562837) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488630)

People who are born with visual impairments that can be corrected with technology (i.e. not visual cortex failure) have very low chances of worthwhile results.

When the brain never receives stimulus in a cortex, it never forms any pathways. That portion of the brain, while functional, makes no connections with anything else. A person with visual implants might be able to see as well (maybe better) than you and I, but they wouldn't understand what they saw. They would have technical function but no visual acuity.

This same issue has been demonstrated in people who grew up deaf. They may obtain the ability to hear, but understanding is something they can most likely never acheive. The new sense has missed the "formative" years of the brain, and the individual will never be able to use the sense as others do.

For those who have a hard time comprehending this concept (which is completely understandable), liken it to suddenly having wings surgically attached. Sure, you may have wings, and it's physically possible to fly, but you've never had wings before. They don't work like arms or legs, and you'll probably never learn to control them well enough to fly.

If you still aren't sure, watch At First Sight [mgm.com] . It shows quite well the problems a person would face were they to regain sight. And keep in mind, he once could see.

Sound effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488267)

Does it come complete with that cool sound effect when zoom is used.

Good thing... (0)

sisukapalli1 (471175) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488268)

At least this will push lasik surgery to an "old but reliable technology", so that people will feel more comfortable with that.

S

Re:Good thing... (0)

damn dirty ape (557100) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488373)

lasik surgery won't repair your retina..

question (4, Insightful)

CmdrSanity (531251) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488270)

So I guess the most obvious question is: how long before the bionic retina is better than the real thing and would you get one?

Neat stuff.

Re:question (5, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488396)

Let's build on that. How dense could the sensors get before the optical limits of the eye would become the bottleneck?

Also, since these things are using the photo-voltaic effect to generate the electrical impulse, isn't there a limit to how well they would work in low light? Can that limit be overcome? Could they build units that grabbed inductive power from a transmitter in your glasses to overcome that problem, or maybe even allow super night vision? Will future soldiers be encouraged to get such implants? On the opposite side of that equation, would they allow you to look at the sun without being damaged?

Re:question (3, Interesting)

bleckywelcky (518520) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488438)


Absolutely seriously. My eyes aren't in that bad of shape, but they aren't exactly perfect either. Plus I can't see IR or UV. If bionic eyes were tested enough to be completely safe and healthy for the body, as well as 99.999% reliable (preferably 100%), they could be considered a reliable replacement. Add in a few features like integration into computing systems, switching between UV detection, IR detection, and traditional visible light detection, etc, and you would have some really awesome eyes. I would absolutely pick up a pair of these if they were cheap enough and fail safe enough. It would almost be a step toward Predator type systems, just get me a shoulder cannon and I'm all set :) . Just imagine being able to step up to a computer console and plug yourself in. Or even better, using secure IR signals (make sure to switch out of IR detection mode, heh) or WiFi signals. Add in a few memory modules, and you can carry all of your data with you. This would be great.

Re:question (2, Interesting)

modecx (130548) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488527)

All hail Geordi LaForge, prince of nerdiness!

Just Kidding :). Allthings aside, if they could not be snooped (Van Eck Phreaking a body is about the worst way you could violate a person, IMO), and could not be EMFed easily (and I mean that these things should stand so much gauss that my blood would disassemble first), I might just get some bionic eyes too.

And, for the inner pervert in us, if these things could see IR well enough.. Well, just think about the Sony Handycam. Cheers!

Re:question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488469)

assuming safety, count me in. It is the future, after all...folks like Tiger Woods already have better than 20/20 in each eye thanks to laser surgery...

Re:question (0, Interesting)

SumDeusExMachina (318037) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488485)

Or how about this: when implantation starts becoming widespread, will someone find a way to modify the signals produced to induce an optical illusion in the user? How would reality change if someone's sense are showing them something that isn't really "there".

Better yet, if these malfunction in conjunction with other sense that may be "bionicized", in such a manner as someone is led to believe that they are stumbling over a chair or running into a wall, does this mean they really are? I mean, if you "scrape" yourself on something rough, even though you haven't, and you look at your arm and it appears bloody (even though other people see that it is uninjured), and then touch it and feel the wetness of blood, have you been injured?

Re:question (1)

DavittJPotter (160113) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488500)

Actually, this hits really close to home - my Dad had a retina become detached about six months ago, and it was very scary for him and for us while he recovered. Now he's concerned about his other eye, and if he'll be able to continue seeing. He's 54 years old, and is terrified of losing his sight. As for me, I have poor vision, and wonder if his retina problems will also befall me. I say push forward on this, so my Dad can continue to see his grandchildren.

Re:question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488518)

I would like a bionic rectum. Then I could open bottles with it, unscrew bolts, and poop on command. If I was really bored, I could open it up and stick some fake vampire teeth in it, take a picture, and call it Vivendi. :)

Full Article Text (0, Redundant)

Devil's BSD (562630) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488277)

Bionic Retina Gives Six Patients Partial Sight
Wed May 8,10:30 AM ET
By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - They're not as fast as Lee Majors' Bionic Man, but six patients implanted with bionic retinas are seeing things they haven't seen in years.

Thanks to an artificial silicon retina, the six patients, many of whom were virtually blind, are rediscovering simple gifts of the sighted: the flight of a flock of geese, the pattern on a well-worn tablecloth, the face of a loved one.

The patients are part of a pilot study of a solar-powered microchip created by Optobionics, a private company based in Wheaton, Illinois.

The microchips, surgically implanted behind the retina, are smaller than the head of a pin and about half the thickness of a sheet of paper. They work by converting light into electrical impulses.

"What we are doing is trying to replace the function of photoreceptors," said Dr. Alan Chow, a pediatric ophthalmologist and chief operating officer of Optobionics. He developed the chip with his brother Vincent Chow, an electrical engineer.

Loss of light-sensing photoreceptor cells occurs in retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration, the two most common causes of untreatable blindness in developed countries, affecting at least 20 million people worldwide.

What Dr. Chow found is that the chips also seem to be stimulating remaining healthy cells.

"We're pretty excited. We initially expected only some light perception where the implant was. What seems to be improvement outside the areas was unexpected," he said.

'RESCUE EFFECT'

He said the device is having a "rescue effect" on the retina, restoring cells located near the implant site.

"What we think is happening is the implant is stimulating other cells around the retina. We're finding vision is improving not just where the implant is but also in areas near the implant," he said.

Chow is presenting his results later on Wednesday at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The trial includes three patients implanted with the chips for 9 months and three implanted for 21 months. Patients range in age from 45 to 76. All had lost their vision to retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary condition in which the retina gradually degenerates.

Chow said the study was conducted to determine whether the device is safe. "In all six patients there are no signs of infection, inflammation, rejection or detachment," Chow said. He also said the chip has not eroded or moved, and none of the patients have experienced any pain or discomfort. "None can tell there is an implant in their eye," he said.

What they can tell is that they can see better.

Chow said one patient, who has had the implant for 9 months, saw his wife's face for the first time in years. The man, who previously could only see hand motions from four to five feet away, can now see cars from half a block away.

Another patient, who could not detect light even if a bright light was pointed at his eye, now knows when he needs to turn off his porch light.

For another patient, though, the implant has been a bit sobering, Chow said. The patient, who has begun to recognize faces, was disappointed to see how his own face had aged. But he was quick to note signs of age in his brother, who also received an implant.

Chow said his company will continue following the patients, with implants planned for the near future.

Optobionics' corporate investors include medical device giant Medtronic Inc. and CIBA Vision Corp., the eye care unit of Novartis AG.

Re:Full Article Text (5, Funny)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488341)

Yes, it would be awful if Yahoo got slashdotted, wouldn't it? Better post the article, just to make sure.

Re:Full Article Text (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488343)

well, I'm sure these big name servers do go offline temporarily or get DoS'ed or stuff. After all, Murphy's ghost haunts us all.

Re:Full Article Text (2)

isorox (205688) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488466)

Yes, it would be awful if Yahoo got slashdotted, wouldn't it?

Hey, it could be worse, how long to people link to google cache's [216.239.33.100] of the API's [google.com] in Google Releases an API for Their Database [slashdot.org] ?

But someone might yet post a link to the google cache of his post, just in case!

Re:Full Article Text (1)

RTFA Man (578488) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488344)

I love the blatent copyright violations on slashdot. Jesus.

What, do you think YAHOO is going to get slashdotted? Get a clue.

Re:Full Article Text (1)

Jon_Katz (Paranoid F (578179) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488389)

Yeah, Yahoo just can't handle that traffic can it? Mod Parent down : -1 Dumbass

Re:Full Article Text (1)

reflexreaction (526215) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488393)

Chow said one patient, who has had the implant for 9 months, saw his wife's face for the first time in years. The man, who previously could only see hand motions from four to five feet away, can now see cars from half a block away.

Yes but could he read /. ?

Mods doing ....mysterious....things (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488581)

Let's mod up people with decent karma who post things in case of "slashdotting" and mod down people with low karma that do the same exact thing. Right.

Uh Oh... (1, Funny)

NiftyNews (537829) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488279)

Maybe their super-vision can help add to the list of continuity errors in Spider-Man...

Re:Uh Oh... (1, Funny)

I.T.R.A.R.K. (533627) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488371)

You're still pissed off about that whole genetically altered/radioactic spider confusion, aren't you? ;)

Re:Uh Oh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488538)

Organic web-shooters are an abomination before god, damn it.

figs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488280)

Thts cooll. Matbe now I cam seee wat I typ.

Re:figs (1)

reflexreaction (526215) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488314)

Woohoo! No more text-to-speech /.

wow, neat stuff (1)

siliconwafer (446697) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488282)

This is definitely cool stuff. Another step closer to cyborgs.

They only mention that this has been tested on people that have lost their vision - wonder if it'd do anything for people born blind?

I'd like to see more science articles like this on the front page of slashdot!

Re:wow, neat stuff (1)

Devil's BSD (562630) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488293)

wonder if it'd do anything for people born blind? I dunno. My impression is no, since they have never seen and would not know how to interpret the signals. Your brain atrophies too, you know. But I could be wrong, since seeing might be an innate behavior.

Re:wow, neat stuff (2, Redundant)

RFC959 (121594) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488415)

You're pretty much right. There's an article in the June issue of Discover [discover.com] (which the website does not yet acknowledge the existence of, oh well) about corneal repairs, and one man in particular, blind since age 3, who had his corneas repaired. And yes, although his eyes now should allow him to see fine, he can't interpret what he sees. (One interesting side effect: he's immune to certain optical illusions, because he never learned to interpret images in the way that gives rise to the illusion!) Studies have been done with animals, too, in which animals are blindfolded at birth and their eyes only uncovered after they've reached adulthood - and although their eyes are physically fine, they're unable to actually use their vision. "Seeing" seems to be mostly post-processing by the brain.

Re:wow, neat stuff (1)

pennsol (317791) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488318)

I think it would all depend on the reason they are blind.. if it's because of optical nerve dammage i doubt it but for retnal problems maybe.. the amazing thing is that they have microchips that can talk to nerve endings.. being someone who only has partial use of one foot because of nerve dammage in a car accident this is good news.. when you cut the nerves it extremly hard to get the nerve to transfer the electrical impulses properly again..but if they can make your retina see light again there is hope for other types of nerve endings in the body..i think this reaserch will help others regain the use of dammaged nerve endings..

Maybe they can give these to referees! (1, Funny)

Hexray (546646) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488284)

I know a few calls where I would feel more comfortable if the refs had had these implants recently, if you know what I mean...

Sound Effects? (0)

wcspxyx (120207) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488285)

But do they come with the cool sound effects like Col. Steve Austin?

Do-to-to-to-to-to-to-to-to-to-to-to....

Thank goodness (1)

reflexreaction (526215) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488295)

That there is no "blind-community" counterpart to the deaf-community that was up in arms about cochlear implants. Could you imagine Stevie wonder saying that these are bad things?

Re:Thank goodness (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488566)

That there is no "blind-community" counterpart to the deaf-community

Rather, there is no apparent blind community to those who are not directly involved with it.

Having blind family members, I can say that there is actually a very large blind community, which I believe is necessary. It is important to realize that people with certain types of disabilities have different struggles and lifestyles then the general population, and being involved with others who share the same experiences can definately help in making life a little easier and pleasent.

Also from my experience, people who have been blind from birth or early childhood would likely not chose to have an implant/surgery to correct the blindness for a few reasons.

First, those adults who were blind from birth have areas in the brain responsible for sight that are not developed because they have never used them. If one of these people were to undergo a operation to correct the blindness, the person's brain would still not be able to interperet the stimulus in a coherent manner. They would see, but they wouldn't understand what they were seeing.

Second (even if the first was not an issue), could you imagine viewing the world in a certain manner, and then one day, having all your preconceptions about everything shatter?

People who have been blind from birth have never seen(duh!), but they do however have an understanding about seeing (ie. colors, patterns, etc.). This differs from the actual experience of seeing as we know it, and taking those concepts away would be tramatic. Most people would be unable to cope with this.

Lastly, this is part of who the person is no matter how much it is disliked or how much of an inconvience it is. It is accepted, much like other things that (for the most part) cannot be changed. Having a hatred for something that is a piece of one's self, that cannot easily be changed, is unhealthy. So is having false dreams about "miracles" or "cures".

Cyborgs (1)

YahoKa (577942) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488298)

Soon we'll all be cyborgs and our hearts will be pumping with a motor, controlled by linux (would you trust your heart beat to windows?), running on an AMD system. Hmm.. i like it :)

Re:Cyborgs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488364)

Yeah, but think of the overheating problems.

Three more cyborgs have mysteriously caught fire. All were using Athlons to control their bodily functions. Scientists are stumped.

Re:Cyborgs (2, Funny)

ActiveSX (301342) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488382)

...running on an AMD system

Too bad we'd all die from heat exhaustion. Well, unless you want to have a liquid cooled rib cage.

Re:Cyborgs (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488464)

With a perspex window body mod, a neon light strapped to my aorta and a shelf for the beer, I'd be happy to let that liquid cooling double as my go-anywhere bar fridge.

Re:Cyborgs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488419)

running on an AMD would have our body temps pushed well over 98.6f =)

Re:Cyborgs (1)

Servo5678 (468237) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488567)

And we can use a P2P network to share our thoughts and make our own little Collective.

Re:Cyborgs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488593)

Actually, there are some stories (as mentioned in waking life) where we humans allready have one essentially. The idea is we all get our instincts from everyone else. So that how we learn to survive is because other people have done it and we their knowledge is "zapped" into everyone elses....

Re:Cyborgs (1)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488639)

Heh, yet another tin foil hat thought from me. If cybornetic implants start to become popular, how long before governments and corporations start sneaking in little extras. I'd hate to have a heart with a EULA. ...or one with a gps transmiter that tells some Big Bro with personal issues and a sadistic streak where I am all the time and if I "deviate" from the norm. Then there are the maitenence fees with all that hardware. What is one going to do? Not pay if the price is too high? I can already feel an oversized, serated corporate/government robo-phallus invading my oversensitized bionic colon, if you catch my drift. I doubt it will be extreme, but I doubt it will be fun either.

Another thing that bothers me. I keep making predictions, and I either denounce them myself before saying something or someone says I'm just paraniod (wearing a tin foil cap). Yet I see a bunch of the stuff I guessed happening. I seriously hope this doesn't.

Bah, maybe I'm just paranoid for no good reason.

CmdrTaco's first time with Tyrone (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488301)

CmdrTaco was new to the slashdot compound. He had just recently come out as gay even though he had known at some level that he was a flaming homo his entire life. CmdrTaco had discovered a website called slashdot that helped him come out, and eventually he came to be a part of the crew of Slashdot janitors living in the Slashdot compound.

CmdrTaco had heard CowboiKneel and Homos talking about Tyrone. They didn't say much in the way of useful information. All they would tell CmdrTaco was that Tyrone visited the Slashdot compound every other week on Friday. Then they would just smile.

CmdrTaco wondered with anticipation about Tyrone, but would have to wait a week to meet him.

The next Friday Tyrone visited the Slashdot compound. CmdrTaco nearly fainted when he saw Tyrone. Tyrone was huge (nearly 6 feet 6 inches tall), black, and incredibly muscular. This was in direct contrast to CmdrTaco who was short at 5 feet 3 inches tall, white, and incredibly thin. Tyrone saw CmdrTaco and said in his deep voice, "Fresh meat. I want to take him first."

CmdrTaco was both nervous and excited as he and Tyrone went to his room in the Slashdot compound. When they got there Tyrone closed the door and locked it. Tyrone then picked up and threw CmdrTaco on the bed. Tyrone then proceeded to all manner of homosexual acts against CmdrTaco's small body. Tyrone made CmdrTaco suck his dick. He would also make CmdrTaco take his dick up CmdrTaco's ass. Since Tyrone had a big black dick, CmdrTaco cried out in pain. Eventually, CmdrTaco fell unconcious.

The next day CmdrTaco woke up with bruises all over his body, with every part of his body in pain. The rest of the Slashdot janitors were in a similar state. CmdrTaco couldn't wait for Tyrone to come visit again.

Improvements (4, Interesting)

chill (34294) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488302)

How long until they offer an "improved" version, that has an overlaid clock/calendar, or just a HUD connected to the implanted, bone-conductive phone?

How about that "cybog" professor and all the hassles he had getting past airport security. While these things are tiny, I can easily forsee a future whene implants are regulated country-by-country.

"Sorry sir. Memory-storage implants are not legal in Canada. You must reboard the airplane."

Johnny Mnemonic, here we come.

Re:Improvements (3, Funny)

Wylfing (144940) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488316)

Yes, if you look very closely at these bionic eyes you will see the words "Zeiss-Ikon" etched onto the irises.

PROPS TO FAKE RECIPETROLLS...VEGETARIAN MOUSSAKA ! (-1)

RecipeTroll (572375) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488426)

Vegetarian Moussaka

Ingredients
1 eggplant, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
2 potatoes, thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 (14.5 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
1/2 (14.5 ounce) can lentils, drained, juice reserved
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
black pepper to taste
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly brown eggplant and zucchini slices on both sides; drain. Adding more oil if necessary, brown potato slices; drain.
Saute onion and garlic until lightly browned. Pour in vinegar and reduce. Stir in tomatoes, lentils, 1/2 the juice from lentils, oregano and parsley. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes.
In a 9x13 inch casserole dish layer eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, onions and feta. Pour tomato mixture over vegetables; repeat layering, finishing with a layer of eggplant and zucchini.
Cover and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine butter, flour and milk. Bring to a slow boil, whisking constantly until thick and smooth. Season with pepper and add nutmeg. Remove from heat, cool for 5 minutes, and stir in beaten egg.
Pour sauce over vegetables and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for another 25 to 30 minutes.

Makes 8 to 10 Servings

Or worse yet... (0, Troll)

I.T.R.A.R.K. (533627) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488528)

...overlaid advertising. Good luck finding a popup killer for that kind of software.
Or imagine being turned away at the airport because your implants don't have DRM implemented. ;p~

Solar powered eyes? (2, Interesting)

adporter (135648) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488303)

Optobionics is using the energy in the light to do this, which differs from alternatives (the epiretinal approach) which requires external power sources and are therefore big fat and clunky.

Could this technology have a function in cameras?

Re:Solar powered eyes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488429)

reminds me of Cyclops' solar powered eyes ;)

What happens at night? (2)

TBHiX (26224) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488458)

I mean, I'm sure these things must build up some kind of reserve -- they wouldn't be practical otherwise -- but exactly how much light is required to charge up? Would a low-light condition (say, street lighting in a quiet neighborhood) be too low? Is so, how long before the eyes stop functioning?

Still, interesting stuff.

Solar powered humans... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488539)

See the Australian Greenhouse Office [greenhouse.gov.au] website.

I wonder... (1, Funny)

maxmg (555112) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488304)

Will there be Linux drivers for those things?

Re:I wonder... (1)

esper_child (515754) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488542)

not for 6 months, but that is only if the community stays on the ball and current. 12 month - a year and a half for full functionallity. Even then you can't get support from the maker.

Can it be DoS'd? (4, Interesting)

Jon Howard (247978) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488306)

What kind of interference will upset the function of this device which wouldn't affect a normal eye? Can it be remotely manipulated in such a way as to malfunction or function in a way that a remote attacker may desire it to function?

The fact that I have to ask these questions makes me hesitant to put electronics in my head, but I can imagine that the concern would be less for someone who couldn't see without them.

Re:Can it be DoS'd? (2, Interesting)

reflexreaction (526215) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488379)

Yes but perhaps not in the way you think. While something like this has a possibility of being hacked, it will only be if someone puts backdoors into the low level hardware controlling the electrical signals along with the remote controller.

Fortunately the eye works differently than the typical I/O interface. Retinal neurons adjust quickly to stimilation and adjust firing patterns. Just think how quickly your eyes adjust to stepping out into a dark room from the sunlight or vice versa. Any permanent damage to the eye is usually from something physical rather than electrical. You can only burn out your eyes from looking at the sun and it's UV or whatever.

Also there is something called deploarization block in which the cell will simply not fire even if there is strong enough imput.

The other big factor is that while all the signalling is coming from this mechanical interface, all the interpretation is done in the Occipital Lobe and we don't and I don't think ever will have a great enough understanding of the brain to hack it.

Re:Can it be DoS'd? (1)

Jon Howard (247978) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488456)

Yes but perhaps not in the way you think. While something like this has a possibility of being hacked, it will only be if someone puts backdoors into the low level hardware controlling the electrical signals along with the remote controller.

You don't suppose that the different material it is made out of might be somewhat affected by properly patterned RF transmissions? I know that silicon is much more responsive to RF than the usual tissue in that area is, perhaps this could be used to give people UV or IR vision rather than (or in addition to) normal vision. Fascinating stuff either way.

all the interpretation is done in the Occipital Lobe and we don't and I don't think ever will have a great enough understanding of the brain to hack it.

I'm much more of an technological optimist in the sense that I disagree.

Re: prOn (2)

fferreres (525414) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488578)

Well, i can think of a remote thingy that wouldn't bother me much. Imagine how much fun you could have had at class: looking at the board and teacher but seen some great pr0n "internally" :)

That's just great. Really. (4, Insightful)

dlek (324832) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488315)

It's nice to see technology that really improves people's lives, instead of possibly giving slight and ambiguous gains to their productivity or make it that much easier to send 10-word messages to other people within urban areas. I like advancements in 3d vid cards and such as much as the next guy, but this is what technology's really all about. Helping the blind see again? Excellent. I'd give back the Internet if it would find us a cure for cancer.

imagine having a beowulf cluster of these! (1)

n4zgl (578195) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488335)

(-1, bc troll) "Chow said one patient, who has had the implant for nine months, saw his wife's face for the first time in years. The man, who previously could only see hand motions from four to five feet away, can now see cars from half a block away." a long time coming! cyborg implants enabling supervision look a whole lot closer. One question I would ask a patient is "how does it look?" do you have stereoscopic vision? Augemented 'fly-eye' vision? colour perception? Like a cure for cancer, I think we all know someone who will benefit from this.

Limited Potential (5, Informative)

Jon_Katz (Paranoid F (578179) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488346)

While this indeed is a great innovation, we must remember that this has only been tested by people affected by retinitis pigmentosa. Whether the optical implants can be used to restore sight for people from eye injuries or other diseases remains to be seen.

A lowdown on retinitis pigmentosa can be found here [demon.co.uk] .

Yahoo news reporting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488348)

I am so glad Yahoo is getting out there and interviewing and reporting. I mean it is always a pleausre to see the bright yellow Yahoo! news vans out scouring out any story that can be found.

More Info (1)

aebrain (184502) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488357)

Links to stories on the same subject are here [optobionics.com]

How it's powered (3, Interesting)

martyb (196687) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488360)

I was wondering how in the world it was powered. Come to find out, it's just a bunch of tiny solar cells according to
this article [howstuffworks.com] at How Stuff Works [howstuffworks.com] .
The light coming into the eye is focused on the retina. Solar cells convert light to electricity. Electricity stimulates optic nerves. Voila --Sight!

More technical details (4, Informative)

martyb (196687) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488417)

There's much more detail on the history, design, and development of the device in this EE times article [eetimes.com] . I was especially struck by how they persevered. They started on this in 1990 and things did not go entirely smoothly:

"There were 50 to 75 major hurdles from the time we started," Vincent Chow said. "The biocompatibility side represented probably 40 percent of the issues. The other 60 percent were really in the electrical performance of our structures. That's because the final stimulation is an ionic stimulation. We're basically trying to interface a solar structure so that the microcurrents produced by the solar cell have a very high efficiency or functionality factor to stimulate the cells that are touching these particular areas."

This version of the device contains about 3500 light detecting cells. If this version works out okay, they are planning to develop a much larger version of the chip.

If the ASR chip is successful in restoring some degree of vision, Optobionics will make modifications to a final and significantly larger chip design. Some possible ideas, said Alan Chow, include placing openings in the chip to allow nourishment to flow between the outer and inner retina; and changing the direction of the electrical stimulation on an ongoing basis, a technique referred to as biphasic stimulation.

Only for those who lost their sight (4, Informative)

Hitokage_Nishino (182038) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488361)

There is an extremely interesting article in a recent Discover magazine about a man who was blind from the age of 2-3 recieving sight back in one eye thanks to stem cell implants.

While after the operation he physically had 20/20 vision, he actually saw more along the lines of 20/500. The problem wasn't his eye, but his brain. He just hadn't learned how to fully percieve eyesight. One interesting note is that he does not perceive optical illusions. Since he's well past that critical stage of mental development when one is supposed to get it hardwired, he'll have a rough time getting his eyesight anywhere near normal. In fact, several other people who were blind as small children and had similar operations say they would rather be blind now.

At any rate, while this will certainly be a great help to those who lost their sight as adults... it may not be of too much help to those born blind.

Re:Only for those who lost their sight (3, Insightful)

Karen_Frito (91720) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488412)

Perhaps not blind adults who lost sight as children -- but if this technology is developing sucessfully today ...

Children NOW who lose their sight may never BECOME adults who lost their sight as children.

Lose sight at 5, get chip at 6, return to normal life. (Extremly abridged version, minus all the "Learn to see again" stuff.)

This is a wonderful innovation - even if its not for everyone, its a start. And everything has to start somewhere.

Science as a miracle? (2, Interesting)

copponex (13876) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488363)

Well, I'm sure you've all thought about it. Science can help the lame walk, help the mute communicate, and now it lets the blind see. I wonder how long the ultra-right can continue condemning science as evil.

Re:Science as a miracle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488487)

here here! yeah, this is off-topic, but i wouldn't despise republicans so much if it weren't for that small vocal groupt of, lets face it, "nuts" that have such dramatic influence...

If anybody reading this is a republican politician, take note.

bionics? (1, Funny)

phaserx (574470) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488365)

bionic eyes to help the blind.. hrmm.. where's the line to sign up and test the bionic penis??

Re:bionics? (1, Funny)

damn dirty ape (557100) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488397)

a bionic penis might be dangerous for slashdot readers... too many broken hands testing it out

Re:bionics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488568)

Or worse.. their dogs.

Re:bionics? (1)

number one duck (319827) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488557)

Its right after the penis-removal line. Can't have it both ways, buddy,

Re:bionics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488677)

They will be limited to laywers, corporate boards, and thier goon squads. They will come with consumer colon tracking devices.

and rush has the bionic ear (1)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488377)

it is amazing how we live in an age where miracles are commonplace... im not religious, nor did I probably even spell it right. just saying that most of the stuff that jesus did can be done by modern science. Curing the blind (laser cataract sugery), the lame can walk (broken leg)... wouldn't such a thing as 'bionic retinas give patients sight' be regarded as a miracle even 100 years ago?
let me restate, I have no religious affiliation...
I vote lp

Re:and rush has the bionic ear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488498)

i'm not religious either, nor can I spell worth a crap, but jesus didn't do that "stuff"...

No one can walk on water, make something from nothing, and be without sin in the biblical definition.

Now, Lord Ganesh, the elephant God, he is the REAL god...look him up on google, then, offer him up some milk :)

--just your avarage athiest

unnecessary in most cases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488404)

Simple nutritional supplementation with taurine, lipoic acid and lutien can prevent such problems. It is also a question of build up of toxins in the body over many years that causes such damage. I am following the program listed at:

www.prestiegepublishing.com

in the book titled "Pain Free". Don't be fooled, this is serious medicine from people who care about health issues. The newsletter is cheap and well worth the read.

Byron Como

Re:unnecessary in most cases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488501)

Simple nutritional supplementation with taurine, lipoic acid and lutien can prevent such problems.

Yeah, and it can cause others. Taurine has been proven to harden arteries. Too much Lipolic acid can lead to very low levels of blood sugar (very bad if you're diabetic). And making bad suggestions on Slashdot can lead to low Karma.

laser surgery.... (1)

idontneedanickname (570477) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488406)

a read an article in popsci [popsci.com] that mentioned that new laser surgery being done to people with eye-problems, could be applied to people wiht perfect eye-sight to give them up to 20/10 vision!! (which means you see something that's 20 feet away, like it's 10 feet away) Are you thiking what i'm thinking pinky?
--tzan

Re:laser surgery.... (3, Interesting)

freeweed (309734) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488474)

It's a common fallacy to think that 20/20 vision is "perfect", and that anything better is somehow "miraculous". There are many people with better than 20/20 vision. Hell, I used to be one, until I hit puberty and started wearing glasses - really freaked my mom out to be told that I had better than 20/20 vision. Made me feel a bit freakish, truth be told.

Also keep in mind that "seeing something 20 feet away like it's 10 feet away" just means you might see a tiny bit more detail - at 20/20 vision most people can see damn near perfectly out to a LONG distance. Really makes me wonder why someone with 20/20 vision would risk their eyesight just for a marginal improvement.

On this note, anyone remember WHY they chose 20/20 as the standard? Was it arbitrary?

As I just took a final over this... (3, Interesting)

PhilosopherKing (7890) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488574)

Yes, 20/20 is mostly arbitrary. The neumerator denotes the distance (in feet) the test is given at. (Usually 10 feet, but they use a mirror to double the distance to the standard 20 feet.) The denominator denotes the distance (in feet) at which the critical feature of the letters/numbers/shapes subtends one minute of visual angle. (Is that not a A answer, I'll find out on Friday)

Re:laser surgery.... (1)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488610)

Your question irked me then made me think. I would figure the reason 20/20 was considered "standard" was probably something along the lines of median statistical data. Start with the premise that 20/20 vision is the most commmon. 20/20 being a ratio that easily describes statistically common vision accuities. 20/20 IMPLIES that there can be better as well as worse kinds of vision, but that they are simply anomalous (not in a bad way).

they are already advertising it here (1)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488506)

Avery morning on the radio i hear some baseball or football player explain how he got eye surgery and now his sight is better than 20/20 and it really improves his game.

I would be really scared to go under the knife for unnecassary thing though. God might get mad that i am not happy with what he gave me and send me some complications.

Re:laser surgery.... (1)

negativethirsty (555244) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488543)

i have 20/10 vision, its not all that its cracked up to be

blah (-1)

LOTR Troll (544929) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488431)

meh

Next step.. the "Being John Malkovich webcam" (0)

willpost (449227) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488442)

$200 for 15 minutes

The New Age of Bionics (-1, Redundant)

alchemist68 (550641) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488447)

We can rebuild them, we have the technology.... Da da da da, da da da da da da da da da...(repeat) OR perhaps, this is the beginning of the BORG! Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. You will have cybernetic devices implanted throughout your body, you will have M$ Windows installed to network those devices. You will lose your individuality, blah, blah, blah....

Can you imagine... (1)

Rui del-Negro (531098) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488489)

...a beowulf cluster of these?

(well, someone had to say it)

I wonder how long it'll take until we see NVidia and ATI try to sell us this kind of thing...

RMN
~~~

Re:Can you imagine... (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488595)

I wonder how long it'll take until we see NVidia and ATI try to sell us this kind of thing...

It'll be Zeiss and Nikon. Optics, not graphics.

Ahhh (1)

kissmyasm (565356) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488503)

So how long before spyware comes with your retinas so that other people can monitor what you see? I'm all for medical breakthroughs, but what about privacy? I dunno... guess I'm too paranoid...

Help!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3488509)

Please help me. I live in a neighborhood where I could get shot. I want to get fucked in the ass (and I am I guy). I am almost anorexic.

Now for the opposite... (0, Offtopic)

da cog (531643) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488546)

Okay, so we can now fix our retinas' ability to receive light. That's all fine and dandy, but what I want to know is: How long until we have the technology to send light back out?

I want implants in my eyes that let me shoot laser beams at people!

Is having my own little Stare o' Death too much to ask for?

Stevie Wonder? (2)

line-bundle (235965) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488560)

Here is an old link to his eye thing. Here [slashdot.org]

Talk about unthankfulness (3, Funny)

xcomputer_man (513295) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488597)

From the article:

"For another patient, though, the implant has been a bit sobering, Chow said. The patient, who has begun to recognize faces, was disappointed to see how his own face had aged."

I can almost hear those doctors now. "Dude. You've been blind for many years, you were chosen to have your sight restored by a groundbreaking scientific process, and the only thing you can think about is how old you are?

Get back on that operating table, I'm gonna yank that damn chip out your eye..."

THIS IS GREAT (1)

Nobody's Hero (552712) | more than 12 years ago | (#3488632)

I don't know about you guys but this is deffinetly a step in the right direction. How close are we coming to creating synthetic eyeballs. Imagine people who have lost thier eyes might actually be able to see in the near future.

If the electric impulses that are interprutted by the brain as sight, touch, etc. can be harnessed think about the newest forms os prosthetic hands android hands that actually work!!! this is fabulous....

I can hardly wait to see more on this subject!!!
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