Retinal implant shines light on artificial vision
Engineers at EPFL in Switzerland are developing a retinal implant that works with camera-equipped smart glasses and a microcomputer to one day give blind people a form of artificial vision.
“Our system is designed to give blind people a form of artificial vision by using electrodes to stimulate their retinal cells,” said Diego Ghezzi, who was been working on this technology since 2015.
In short, here is how the technology aims to provide artificial vision to the patient; The camera embedded in the smart glasses captures images in the wearer’s field of vision and sends the data to a microcomputer placed in one of the eyeglasses’ end-pieces. The microcomputer turns the data into light signals which are transmitted to electrodes in the retinal implant. The electrodes then stimulate the retina in such a way that the wearer sees a simplified, black-and-white version of the image. This simplified version is made up of dots of light that appear when the retinal cells are stimulated. However, wearers must learn to interpret the many dots of light in order to make out shapes and objects.
“It’s like when you look at stars in the night sky – you can learn to recognize specific constellations. Blind patients would see something similar with our system,” added Ghezzi.
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