Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sight to the Blind!!!!!!

Let’s give it up for the Doheny Eye Institute, Southern California, and whoever else worked on this project. This sort of thing really lifts my spirits. These people have laid the groundwork for technology that will restore sight to the blind! Particularly people with problems related to the retina, including macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

They’ve developed an artificial retina implant that sends signals to the retinal nerves. This implant communicates by way of radio receiver to a small camera in a pair of glasses. So far, the resolution is pretty low, but I have confidence that if we can get mega pixels in a digital camera, they can figure out how to improve their system with time and development. They’re conducting medical trials now, for which thousands of people have already volunteered.

It reminds me a bit about the motor cortex reader implant that I read an article about a year ago (don’t have the links…). Apparently another group of researchers managed to read the motor commands sent out by the area of the brain responsible for directing our movement. They could get a monkey to manipulate an artificial arm, or people to manipulate mice on a computer screen.

Imagine how liberating this sort of technology will be for quadriplegics who cannot feel any part of their bodies, to be able to control something! Imagine how liberating it will be for the blind to see again! This sort of technological development is something I love to hear about. These guys deserve our investment and support.


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