FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

"Bionic Eye" Under Development

Physicists and opthamologists at Stanford University are developing what they call an "optoelectronic retinal prosthesis system." In layman's terms, a bionic eye.

The device replaces retinas that have degenerated -- a leading cause of blindness. It is currently being tested in rats, with human testing being at least three years out.

The system presently consists of a video camera attached to the eye's photosensors. A chip is implanted in the eye; the system also relies on a pocket-sized CPU and a battery pack.

Presently, the technology should be good enough to allow users to determine shapes and colors, recognize faces, and even read large-print type. As the technology improves -- and as they learn the details of how the eye processes images -- researchers expect to improve on the eye, perhaps even adding "extras" such as infrared sensitivity.

Such news ought to be of great interest to those tracking future demographics, as macular degeneration will be a growing concern among our aging population.

Source: Roland Piquepaille's Tech Trends