Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bionic Eyes

Simulated bionic eye image. See link.
Did you know you could implant a microchip on your retina, and have it talk to your optic nerve? It works so well that blind people can see, kind of.

The nerve/implant interface is pretty simple, platinum electrodes embedded in silicone. Workers say it is important that the silicone be conformable around the surface of the nerve. An improvement is a polymer coating that is compatible with the cells neighboring the implant.

People say the optical chip is like a solar cell where it generates a current. This is unlike a  CCD chip in the back of a digital camera that needs a battery. There is no room for a battery on the back of the eye.  A problem with the solar cell approach is that it is less efficient than a natural eye, and the light needs to be brighter.

In the diagram below, a camera is used to create bright secondary image for the optical chip to detect.
 Notice that the camera outputs to a display mounted in front of the blind person, as if on their glasses. There are other systems; see also.

The coolest thing about bionic eyes is that they work at all.

This sounds like the start of a science fiction story, but let me direct you to a very different post on Borg eyes.