Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Ophthalmologists, Physicists Design Bionic Eye

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the who-needs-eyes dept.

Biotech 344

InfallibleLies writes "For the first time ever, those who have been blind since birth will have a chance to see the world. It's still in the early stages, but this is a giant leap forward in medical science." From the linked BBC article: "U.S scientists have designed a bionic eye to allow blind people to see again. It comprises a computer chip that sits in the back of the individual's eye, linked up to a mini video camera built into glasses that they wear. Images captured by the camera are beamed to the chip, which translates them into impulses that the brain can interpret."

cancel ×

344 comments

All the European Homosexuals want to know... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149811)

Does it run Linsux?

Re:All the European Homosexuals want to know... (1)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149830)

Actually, I think when want to know if you're avaiable for an ass-whoopin.

And no jokes, please. It's too obvious.

Re:All the European Homosexuals want to know... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12150012)

My ass is already sore from last night, as you well know...

Re:All the European Homosexuals want to know... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149838)

Certainly I hope it doesn't run windows... we don't want the blind people to see only a blue screen all the time, right?

Re:All the European Homosexuals want to know... (2)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149996)

Nothing like seeing the world for the first time, and all of the sudden a damn online casino pop-up ad fills your vision, blinking furiously.

Good news for Stevie Wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149818)

He will be able too see the microphone now.

I can see... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149819)

that I have first post :P

Re:I can see... (3, Funny)

brjndr (313083) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150009)

Apparently you don't see to well.

Your bionic eye may need a firmware update.

Nonvisible wavelenghts? (5, Interesting)

bird603568 (808629) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149820)

Would it be possible to make it "see" infared. Then it would translated it to false color? It would be like the first upgrade in Rouge angent.

Windows I-C (-1, Offtopic)

sammykrupa (828537) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149823)

In other oh-so-important-news Microsoft releases Windows I-C, the next-gen OS for the back of your eye!

Re:Windows I-C (1)

DarcSeed (636445) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149833)

It would suck then to have a BSOD... though at least the color changes from nothing to blue.

Re:Windows I-C (1)

SPIM (250250) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149860)

Inevitable comment from the first person to get these implanted: "I see nothing but blue, man!"

Re:Windows I-C (2)

kosmicki (770049) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149909)

And how would they know what blue looks like? ;)

From birth? (5, Interesting)

puppyfox (833883) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149834)

I'm not so sure that people bling from birth will benefit from any such device. That part of their brain is not even developed, you can't just "plug in" some video feed and expect them to see, do you?

Re:From birth? (4, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149856)

Why not? Does being blind from birth imply a brain problem, or just a problem with the data collection device?

Or is it that not seeing the inside of the womb for 9 months damages your ability to process visual images for the rest of your life? Seems like a pretty big stretch to me.

Re:From birth? (5, Interesting)

puppyfox (833883) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149914)

Fact is, the brain keeps developing after the baby is born, so even if you're perfectly normal but blindfolded (or in the dark) for you first few years, you won't be able to ever see "normally". Same goes for some other complex brain functions, like using language. One of those funny facts that stick with you from college classes :)

Re:From birth? (2, Interesting)

audacity242 (324061) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149933)

Sort of true, not entirely. How would you explain people who have cochlear implants? By all accounts, those work pretty dang well.

Also, comparing it to language development is a big stretch, vision and language are vastly different, particularly since vision isn't "learned" like language is.

Re:From birth? (1)

puppyfox (833883) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149967)

Some psycholiguists (like Marvin Minksy and Pinker) do argue that the ability to use language is not learned, but an ability of the brain much like sight (only the language that you happen to use is learned). There is some data to suggest that as I mentioned, but nothing definitive I suppose.

Re:From birth? (4, Interesting)

duffahtolla (535056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150047)

No, this is true. Being in the womb is why babies are born with crappy vision. The neural pathways in the brain have not yet formed. As the baby tries to "see" things, the pathways map themselves to the signals. Thats why you can't leave an eye patch on a new born for too long.

This goes on for about 6 to 9 years where vision stops development.

There was a case where a mans vision was restored, (Lost durring childhood) where he simply could not deal with his new vision. He nearly killed himself trying to pick up the "toy" car outside his window. He voluntarily went back to blindness. (I have no references, sorry)

Even the article specifically states: "US scientists have designed a bionic eye to allow blind people to see again."

Re:From birth? (2, Funny)

isometrick (817436) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149869)

I'm not so sure that people bling from birth will benefit ...

I think they will. After all, the rich keep gettin' richer, and the poor keep gettin' poorer.

Son of P. Diddy (2, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149877)

"I'm not so sure that people bling from birth "

I'm sure that Puffy has a lot of little brats running about the mansions bedecked in bling.

Re:From birth? (2, Informative)

Lux (49200) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149938)

I don't think so, either, and the actual article doesn't make any such claims. Just the /. summary.

There is actually a similar (in concept) device that has already been tested in humans. IIRC, the guy walks around with a hefty wearable computer/power source.

One drawback to the this approach (plugging into the eye) is that by interfacing with the optical system so close to the surface, you preclude the possibility of helping people who have damage to their optic nerve. But there's a lot to be said for the reduced invasiveness, too.

Re:From birth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149994)

You are correct, I also saw that man on PBS. He is actually able to see in black and white at an extremely low resolution, allowing him to 'read' very large black and white letters.

Re:From birth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149983)

aside from your bling bling spelling mistake.. do you honestly believe that 'seeing' is not developed prior to birth? are you telling me that all babies are born blind? moron.

I don't know if the summary was edited... (2, Informative)

NarrMaster (760073) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150021)

...but it does say, "U.S scientists have designed a bionic eye to allow blind people to see again.", implying that said blind people had seen once before.

It's possible that the summary said differently, but there's no "edited" note.

Resolution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149836)

According to TFA, the intended resolution of the final product is about 100 pixels. Is this really enough to allow -- as they said -- recognition of faces and other common objects? Also, is there a sampling pattern that'd be superior to a grid for a task like this?

A little goes a long way (3, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149917)

I once saw a recognisable picture of old Abe Lincoln in approx 16x16 pixels IIRC. This is not enough for pron or to driving etc, but is probably enough to make a vast difference to a blind person's life: being able to see some of the local environment can help a lot eg:Where's the coffee cup on the table? Where's the phone? Is the door open/shut? Am I about to fall in a hole? Is the lid up or down when I go for a pee?

Re:A little goes a long way (1)

serps (517783) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149986)

The article states that they have a few dozen pizels today, and are aiming for 50-100 pixels. That's not awesomely revolutionary, considering tests of 16 pixels were being conducted in the late 1990's.

However, other researchers [biologynews.net] have managed 5000 pixels (70x70) although they don't have hard numbers about how many of those can be seen by patients.

From what I gather, most of these experiments rely on the patient having decent optics to start with; by any large, they're trying to fix detached retinas, not shortsightedness or whatever.

Re:Resolution... (1)

zkiwi (34518) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150032)

The human (and AFAIK most other animals) have a hugely higher pixel density towards the middle of the field of vision. When you think about it you actually build the image of a scene in your head by "running your eye over it".

Most of the resolution will only have to be at the center therefore you could get a lot bigger "bang for your pixel buck" than if you were building a camera or monitor.

2600 baby (2, Funny)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150063)

Wow! Finally my entire world will look just like the good old Atari 2600!
That's not a duck... it's a dragon!

Eye in action (4, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149837)

Look at distant car...

Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da...

See close-up view of its license plate.

Re:Eye in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149965)

When it quits working you can just turn into a big green 70's bulky looking creature and beat the shit out of everything...

Not for those who have been blind since birth... (5, Insightful)

SkOink (212592) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149840)

If I recall correctly, people who have been blind their whole lives can never really 'learn' to see, after age 3 or so. At least, not on anywhere near the same level that people can see naturally, even assuming that they had an absolutely perfect prothesis. Who this will benefit are people who have went blind at some point during their adult life due to injury, glaucoma, diabetes (yes, it can make you go blind), drinking too much rubbing alcohol, or something similar.

Re:Not for those who have been blind since birth.. (4, Funny)

Lux (49200) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149853)

> Who this will benefit are people who have went blind at some point during their adult life due to injury, glaucoma, diabetes (yes, it can make you go blind), drinking too much rubbing alcohol, or something similar.

You forgot masturbation.

Re:Not for those who have been blind since birth.. (4, Informative)

leob (154345) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149949)

Masturbation can only possibly cause night blindness if your diet does not have enough zinc or vitamin A. Zinc is needed to transport vit. A to the retina, where it is needed for the rods that provide black-and-white night vision, but it is excreted in relatively high amount with the semen.

Re:Not for those who have been blind since birth.. (4, Funny)

Chazmati (214538) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150017)

I'll bet you win at Balderdash all the time.

yes, 5 mg each time (4, Funny)

r00t (33219) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150077)

The US RDA (diet guideline) says you need 15 mg per day. Wikipedia says you lose 5 mg [wikipedia.org] each time you abuse yourself. So, at a rate of 3 squirts/day, you'll have no zinc left for your eyes. You'll go blind, just like your momma told you.

Re:Not for those who have been blind since birth.. (1)

hyperstation (185147) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149866)

this is interesting, cuz i have been blind in one eye since birth, but i "learned" to see. if the resolution got a lot better, i wonder what it could do for me?

Re:Not for those who have been blind since birth.. (4, Informative)

RFC959 (121594) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149940)

Yes, this jibes with what I've heard too. Google for "Parmelee Sigman kitten" and you find references to a study in which kittens were blindfolded from birth to adulthood; when the blindfolds were removed, they were unable to see and never gained the ability to see, despite the fact that their eyes were physically normal - their brains simply weren't wired for it. Still, we've discovered that the adult brain is more plastic than we used to think, so I wouldn't totally rule out the possibility. They mention macular degeneration in the article, and this is a big one, since it's a major cause of blindness in the elderly (my grandmother and great-aunt were both legally blind in their old age because of it). Something that can fix that would help make living longer better, instead of just longer.

Re:Not for those who have been blind since birth.. (2, Informative)

Clod9 (665325) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149948)

True. The article summary is just wrong, based on the incorrect assumption that the brains of people blind from birth are identical to those who have lost their sight.

The development of the visual cortext that supports sight occurs considerably before age 3. If one were to develop a prosthesis for those born without sight, it would have to be introduced very early.

You're right that the research mentioned in the article will help those who have had sight and then lost it through disease or injury, a huge group of people who I'm sure will welcome it when it becomes available. And I have hopes that future research might help those blind since birth to "see" in some way as well, though it will be a lot more difficult.

Re:Not for those who have been blind since birth.. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149980)

Here's a wild idea. What if you simulated the processing done by the visual cortex in a chip and then fed the result into the retina?

Re:Not for those who have been blind since birth.. (2, Interesting)

Clod9 (665325) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149988)

A simple description of visual system development in mammals [harvard.edu] might be interesting to some.

Re:Not for those who have been blind since birth.. (1)

ninjamonkey (694442) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150023)

drinking too much rubbing alcohol

Drinking ANY rubbing alcohol is too much if you ask me.

Re:Not for those who have been blind since birth.. (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150069)

You do recall correctly, however like we have talked about almost ad nauseam on Slashdot, there are all sorts of problems with the current strategies of rescuing vision with bionic (and many biological approaches). My doctoral dissertation work focused on this problem and on what happens to the retina when it has become deafferented. What you refer to is the creation of visual pathways leading to and organizing within the cortex a the critical age. Without these pathways, one could attempt to bypass many of the subcortical structures by wiring the implant directly into the cortex ala Dr. Normann's research. However, for folks that suffer from injury, glaucoma, diabetes, or retinitis pigmentosa, bionic implants will not work until we have reigned in retinal/neuronal remodeling.

The issue is that simply bypassing the diseased cells in the retina is impossible, because all of the neurons in the retina are involved in the degenerative process. What needs to be done is to control the degenerative process before retinal implants/transplants can be successful. Also, these guys are building implants with 50-100 "electrodes", but in reality, they will have to have far more to generate reasonable images, and they will need to be at even higher densities.

Not exactly true . . . (5, Informative)

gcauthon (714964) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149841)

It may help people that were blinded later in life through an accident or cataracts. However, if someone is blind from birth then their visual cortex never develops and vision would be impossible even with an artificial eye. Many studies have been done. Click here [harvard.edu] here [tmc.edu] and here [facsnet.org] for more info.

Wonderful (0, Offtopic)

kakashiryo (866772) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149843)

Great advancement in the medical area. However, I really wonder when they can improve on the advancements of correcting vision now. Glasses are evil. Contacts are worse. My eyes take a beating :)

Re:Wonderful (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149889)

what about lasik surgery & corneal implants?

Re:Wonderful (1)

audacity242 (324061) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149977)

For those with really horrible vision (like me), or astigmatism (like me), lasik surgery doesn't have a success rate high enough for me to risk it. At this point in time, dealing with contacts and glasses is preferable to the chance of making my vision even worse.

Hopefully, however, the technique will improve even more with time and I'll eventually have perfect vision.

Re:Wonderful (1)

CajunElder (787443) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150000)

My wife works for an ophthalmologist, and it seems like every few months she's telling me about some new procedure or surgery to improve someone's eyesight. If you haven't been to an ophthalmologist (not optometist) recently, you really should make an appointment. I can't give you any specifics on the new treatments (other than there's some contact lens you can wear at night that reshapes your eyes as your sleep so you don't have to wear any glasses, contacts, etc... during the day). The whole idea of putting something in my eyes, or having someone cut my eyes or even get near my eyes really FREAKS the bajesus out of me, and yes my wife loves to tell me all of the gory details about her job.

I'm shocked! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149849)

"Ophthalmologists" is spelled correctly!

... but does it emit a sinister red beam? (2, Funny)

pilkul (667659) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149850)

For once a story where the Bill-Gates-of-Borg icon would've been appropriate!

Seriously though, I am impressed at this technology. ; I didn't think it was possible to do surgery precisely enough to connect into the optic nerve.

Taking bets... (3, Funny)

RootsLINUX (854452) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149852)

So, how long until someone is able to boot linux on it? >_>

Re:Taking bets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12150008)

It already runs linux.

Cool! (0)

bkazez (851595) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149855)

I can already SEE the amazing potential for this.

Imagine (0, Redundant)

SoCalEd (842421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149859)

what you could see with a Beowulf cluster of these things....

Re:Imagine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149906)

"what you could see with a Beowulf cluster of these things...."

A spider.

Re:Imagine (1)

arodland (127775) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149962)

You wouldn't need the Hubble Space Telescope anymore, that's for sure!

a step in the right direction... (2, Interesting)

OneOver137 (674481) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149863)

but it kinda seems like cheatin' with the external camera. I wonder why they couldn't incorporate the simple optical train into the eye directly? The benefit is that you could see in UV, IR, etc. with a camera and software swap.

Is it retina problems only (2, Insightful)

slobber (685169) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149868)

It sounds like their chip is hooked up to the optical nerve, not directly into brain, so while it might help people with macular degeneration it won't do much for cases when optical nerve is damaged (like glaucoma). I hope I am wrong though.

Wait a minute! (3, Funny)

nharmon (97591) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149871)

It's not made into a stylish visor [startrek.com] .

How do we expect Star Trek to hold any weight if we do an end run around the technology!

jordi laforge (0, Redundant)

sfcat (872532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149878)

Does this mean that x-ray, and other non-visible lightwave sight is possible? Or does the visual cortex of the brain prevent such input? Can't these wavelengths be represented as weird colors or textures? This opens up alot of interesting possiblities. But it is amazing that they can restore someones vision now. Does this work for people born blind, or only for people who have lost their sight. I'm not sure but I think the visual cortex needs to learn how to see and this is only possible during youth, but I'm not sure about that. I assume this only replaces a damaged eye and not a damaged visual cortex. But it is very impressive and important technology. Congrats to the researchers.

One of these days... (1)

Mike Rubits (818811) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149879)

"Science: Ophthalmologists, Physicists Design Bionic Eye"

One day it shall be revealed that scientists have just been playing cruel jokes all these years, and that most of those words are made up.

Re:One of these days... (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149959)

One day it shall be revealed that scientists have just been playing cruel jokes all these years, and that most of those words are made up.

Or that they were ornithologists implanting eagle eyes into people's sockets instead.

Re:One of these days... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12150050)

Erm... All words are made up, if you go back far enough.

At First Sight (1)

reymyster (521177) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149881)

Is anyone else reminded of the Val Kilmer movie At First Sight (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0132512/ [imdb.com] )? Val's character has been blind since age 1 and undergoes a treatment only to find that seeing doesn't mean comprehending what one sees.

hmmm. (5, Interesting)

sugapablo (600023) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149883)

So how long before upgrades make this "bionic eye" significantly better than a human eye?

Will we reach a point where attaching this bionic eye becomes an elective surgery where someone wants to simply improve their eyesight beyond 20/20; beyond what a mere "human" can see?

Breast inlargements, designer babies, bionic implants....where is it all going?

Re:hmmm. (1)

ShnowDoggie (858806) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150022)

In twenty years all the games will display in our eyes, via a chip implant, not on some flat display. Think about it. Think about calling someone and 'seeing' them? Isn't that all possible?

I think that is really cool. Kinda scary too.

where it's all heading..... (2, Insightful)

rodgster (671476) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150025)

A human brain encased in a robot running linux?

Re:hmmm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12150053)

where's it all going?

better porn

Re:hmmm. (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150065)

Will we reach a point where attaching this bionic eye becomes an elective surgery where someone wants to simply improve their eyesight beyond 20/20; beyond what a mere "human" can see?

I can't imagine how mad the MLB and IOC would be about that. Somehow I expect fair sports to be obsolete soon (if not already) with such enhancement.
Breast inlargements, designer babies, bionic implants....where is it all going?

To Hades...and the breasts will go into more Slashdot polls.

Generations (2, Interesting)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149884)

My great grandmother could hardly see or hear for years before she died. My grandmother has a cochlear implant and can hear better now than when she could 10 years ago. She says its the single most amazing thing she's experienced, and she experienced everything from the great depression to the Patriot Act.

The interesting question is, what is more important, being able hear and thus communicate with people around you, or being able to see?

Sight (2)

benpjohnson (674699) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149885)

When do they release the night vision/xray models?

Re:Sight (1)

blew_fantom (809889) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150084)

with this particular technology, it seems as simple as swapping out the external glasses that send the video feeds!

We have a problem... (0, Redundant)

krautcanman (609042) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149896)

Actually it is unlikely that people who have been blind since birth (i.e. they were born that way and didn't develop blindness sometime later) would ever be able to see.

Numerous studies in cats have shown that "disabling" one eye during a kitten's developmental stages will pretty much render the eye useless if given the chance see again once the kitten is an adult cat. The whole idea is that if the eyes were not properly functioning during the most important developmental stages right after birth - when the brain is wiring itself to make sense out of the visual world - it will not occur in adulthood.

So I doubt some brain-computer interface will be able to give sight to somebody who has never had it to begin with. This technology will be more useful for those who already have the wiring, but lost their vision since that time.

Just my two cents.

Re:We have a problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149963)

i think the funniest (in an, unfortunately, rather cruel way) demonstration of this effect come from the cats raised in enviroments with no horizontal edges. the edge-recognition columns in their brains never hooked up, and they literally could not see horizontal lines. if you put them on a table they would blithely walk off into thin air.

Re:We have a problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149974)

I think that them wiring it will allow it to work, since they'll be doing the wiring and not the process of developing at an early age.

Remember the $6 million man? (1)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149899)

It was once my favorite program back in the '70s. I want the built in 40x zoom and night vision capabilities that he had!

Re:Remember the $6 million man? (1)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149961)

bah i want the 300x optical zoom with the CSI filters! i can read lisence plates from 4000 yards!

Me too... (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149971)

...but it'd have to be the $6 billion man. Unless you want 40x digital zoom.

Remember the $6 million man-Outsourced. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149973)

" It was once my favorite program back in the '70s. I want the built in 40x zoom and night vision capabilities that he had!"

Well with cost overruns, inflation, and outsourcing. He's now the $600 Billion Rupes man.

Something similar (3, Informative)

MHobbit (830388) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149900)

I recall during my 4th grade year (about 4 years ago), scientists devised a method for an Indiana man who was blind to see again. What they did, IIRC, was create a pair of glasses that fed the digitized data through a wire to a processor worn around his waist, which in turn transferred the data as electrical signals into his brain directly (as you can guess, they had to drill a hole in his head; a small one though). This method allowed the once-blind man to see about 20 feet in front.

Soon after, they ended up innovating that even more.

Not really close to the bionic eye idea, but close; earlier in the generations.

Plusses and Minuses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149903)

On the plus side, this project should be really good for picking up subtle shifts in the space-time continuum, which is even MORE helpful than it sounds.

On the minus side, it'll make you one of the more annoying characters on ST:TNG.

Didn't Wired report this in 2002? (4, Informative)

wskellenger (675359) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149913)

They did [wired.com] . I remember the cover vividly -- the guy wearing sunglasses with the camera as a lens.

They were stimulating nerves in the eye with tiny electrodes, although they had to ask the patient where in his field of vision he saw the phosphene as they stimulated him. From this they created a "mapping" of sorts.

This sort of research was frowned upon on the US, and so it had to be carried out overseas. Check out the article -- more info than the linked BBC one.

This is OLD news! (2, Interesting)

nilbog (732352) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149918)

This news is so old it stinks. They have been expirementing with bionic eyes since the 70's. I remember watching 3,2,1 contact or some such show where they showed a guy with a bionic eye.

This crops up in the news every once in a while but I haven't seen it go anywhere, the artificial eye is never good enough to go into mass usage.

Another variety of eye bionics actually fuses microchips to the eye, but they found that eyes are much to sensitive to be able to withstand the heat generated from the IE chips.

Mental imaging (3, Interesting)

liangzai (837960) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149920)

Some people who have been blind since birth get very depressed when their vision is medically restored and they see the world as it actually is. It doesn't correspond at all to the colorful paradise their hardware has come up with in lack of sensors.

I guess it's like realizing there is no god after having been brought up in a religious home, or finding out that W. Gates III isn't the saint he has been described to be after filling his pockets for twenty years.

Or maybe it is like Neo finally seeing the rotting world after swallowing the blue pill.

Re:Mental imaging (1)

kertong (179136) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149999)

damn. should've taken the red pill. d'oh! (jumps off cliff)

Re:Mental imaging (2, Insightful)

Eternally optimistic (822953) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150043)

Probably it's like seeing a science fiction movie after you have read the book.

Re:Mental imaging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12150051)

"Some people who have been blind since birth get very depressed when their vision is medically restored and they see the world as it actually is."

Someone must have been pulling your leg when they told you this, because it can't happen. Someone blind from birth can never see again because their visual system in the brain will have never developed.

Re:Mental imaging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12150055)

Or having sex after masturbating for 6 years and wondering what the big deal was about. And why it cost so much.

Old News (1)

pressesc (873084) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149936)

This is not the first time as the story lead claims.

Here's [pressesc.com] an article about Stanford scientists doing the same a while ago.

Useless, for now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149958)

If anyone RTFA, they'd know this isn't all that useful, yet. It says that one electrode would allow the recipient to see one dot of light, and that the version tested in human will contain 50-100. I don't think even 100 pixels of resolution would be even remotely useful. Basically, I think it would allow them to notice large, sudden changes in environment, such as a bus approaching, but nothing beyond that. As for recognizing faces as the article suggests, I'm really doubtful.

I wonder... (2, Funny)

catdevnull (531283) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149964)

I wonder if it will make that cool boopity sound [naver.net] like Steve Austin's Six Million Dollar eye did?

[For the record--I have no idea WTF that music is in that sound byte!]

Pshh, what I REALLY want to know is... (1)

RootsLINUX (854452) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150010)

Will it have a feature where you can see through women's clothing? I think it should be an absolute necessity. Only physics could bring the unthoughtof reality where I could actually be jealous of a blind person for their (lack of) sight. (-_-")

Additional applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12150015)

Y'know, if this camera, as well as using the visual light spectrum, used some invisible frequencies it could have a number of additional uses.

Safe places to cross the road could have markers embedded in the pavement - the camera could highlight these by simulating a particular pattern. Another "no-go" pattern would indicate possible danger areas which may not be immediately apparent to a partially-sighted person.

Within the home, items could be tagged with LEDs to aid visibility.

Shit, I wouldn't mind one of these myself if they could hook it up in parallel to my optic nerve. It can simulate 50 dots - that's enough to represent arrows for use as a navigational aid. Or maybe even enough to scroll text - the ultimate aide d'memoire!

Been done? (1)

wviperw (706068) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150037)

I'm pretty sure I remember a few years back there were a few articles about a device that pretty much did the exact same thing. It interfaced with the brain and used a video camera to let blind people see. Anybody know if this new technology is any different (other than smaller)?

two questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12150041)

1. Does it run linux?
2. What resolution is it?

For a few extra bucks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12150049)

They can make you one of them 'queer eyes' so you'll be real good at picking out clothes and what not.

Not exactly new (1)

springbox (853816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12150071)

There was something on cybernetics on public TV that was broadcast around the 90s I think. They had the eye chip and glasses setup that was mentioned. The resolution wasn't so great from what I saw of their approximated simulations though.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...