The idea of restoring sight to people with damaged or degenerating photoreceptors in their eyes is simple enough in concept -- place a photoreceptor implant in the eye and beam video from a camera to the implant, bypassing the faulty photoreceptors. However, powering a device implanted in the back of a person's eye indefinitely is a serious obstacle. But Stanford researchers have worked around the problem by beaming images to the implant by pulsing near-infrared light that delivers both data and power to the implanted chip.
The 3-millimeter-wide implant is designed like an array of miniature solar cells configured in three layers that are 30 micrometers thick altogether. The array is essentially a collection of pixels, each connected to the next by 300-nanometer-thick silicon joints that allow the array to curve along the natural shape of the retina. To put it another way, the implant is flexible and extremely small.
A visually impaired person with the implant wears a set of exterior glasses that hosts a video camera that delivers a feed to the implant. A pocket PC then translates the video into 900-nanometer-wavelength light that delivers both the image data and electricity to the implant. The researchers chose an invisible, near-infrared display for the goggles because some people suffering from degenerating photoreceptors might still have some perception left, which would register visible light and interfere with the image being projected.
The quality of vision that the rig provides is limited, but the fact that researchers have found an innovative way to deliver both power and images in the same package is a relative breakthrough, as it should inform other efforts at sight restoration on a means to sustainably power remote implants deep in the eye.
They can charge devices wirelessly, so why can't they power something like this wirelessly, too?
If I'm not mistaken, something about magnetic induction or something to that effect (beyond my comprehension) can beam power or something a inches or feet away. Why not do the same with the implant? Wear something that beams the power to the implant. That way, it can power a more powerful implant with better resolution and abilities, like auto-zoom, day/night infrared vision (like Splinter Cell), auto targeting (like RoboCop), and the ability to shoot a laser out of it.
Inductive charging requires the inductor to be plugged in. I could see maybe a sleep mask of some kind that would do it, but you still have to find room for a battery in the back of an eye. And with all of that, you have a strong magnetic field regularly being passed through the brain, which is just asking for trouble. Anyone have a quote on how strong the magnetic field of an inductive charger is? I would be curious.
The infared light delivers power.... is that not wireless charging?
Technically, yes it powers it. But I'm guessing it's not anywhere near powerful enough to do everything and anything the inventors wish it could. I wasn't arguing that fact, just contemplating alternative methods to power something beefier.
That why I suggested the wearable battery pack or whatever. Unless the implant is very, very efficient in converting every joule of energy from infrared light to something the system can use. And then, it's such a small surface area, it can only collect so much energy.
I am personally impressed that this technology has reached a stage that permits those impaired to see to a degree that is considered reasonable. Further research may include implants that means the end of glassess altogether.
I realize being short of sight must be little fun for anyone, but phew, I dont know that I could take the risk of such surgery. I am also one who is nervous of the latest craze, Lazik.
Anyone else reminded of Geordi La Forge's visor?
I am, and does any one know what kind of image it puts out?
is it in color, do u see pixels or is it blurry, ect. ect.
I saw another great post on 'the eye' in which a HUD was placed on a contact lense which stores information on anything from the people you see to the places you go to. The technology is advancing so fast!