Bionic Vision

Most types of bionic vision rely on using large parts of the existing human visual system to restore sight. But a new technique will simply feed the output from a digital camera directly into the brain. New Scientist reports that a new kind of bionic eye will “bypass most of the visual system entirely.” The system,

developed at Monash University in Clayton, Victoria, will use a camera attached to a pair of glasses. The output from the camera will then be sent through a processing unit. From there, signals will be piped directly into the brain. There, they’ll be split up across 11 implanted tiles, each with 43 electrodes.

Stimulation of the brain area where those tiles will be placed causes even blind people to see flashes of light. It’s hoped that the grid of stimulation will mimic a 500-pixel field-of-vision—far more crude than healthy human sight, but impressive if it works.

The researchers are currently working out how to process the information from the camera so that it can be used to create the clearest images on the in-brain grid. They then hope to test the system on people who have recently lost their sight in accidents.