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Biotech Input Devices Medicine Technology

Implant Translates Written Words To Braille, Right On the Retina 75

Posted by timothy
from the downright-amazing dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For the first time, blind people could read street signs with a device that translates letters into Braille and beams the results directly onto a person's eye." According to the article, "In a trial conducted on a single patient who already used the [predecessor] device, the person was able to correctly read Braille letters up to 89 percent of the time, and most of the inaccuracy appeared when the participant misread a single letter. The user was able to read one word a second."
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Implant Translates Written Words To Braille, Right On the Retina

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  • Missing (Score:5, Funny)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday November 23, 2012 @11:11PM (#42079499)

    "For the first time, blind people could read street signs with a device that translates letters into Braille and beams the results directly onto a person's eye."

    There's something missing here. I can't... quite... put my finger on it. I'm sure I'll get it in a minute.

    • Re:Missing (Score:4, Funny)

      by Swave An deBwoner (907414) on Friday November 23, 2012 @11:28PM (#42079577)

      You missed .. reading the article. No worries, just click on the link and you'll be fine.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Nothing to see here folks, move along...

      • You missed .. reading the article. No worries, just click on the link and you'll be fine.

        I was making a joke about the poor summary by the submitter and miserable lack of editorial quality by the approver. And I'd click on the link but someone sent me a youtube of a cat. Humor is such a subjective thing. So, a man walks into a bar...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Braille : Small sharp dots.
      Retina : Sensitive and fragile human organ.

      "Hey, what are you doing ?"
      "We are giving you the new reading aid for the blind."
      "But I'm not blind !"
      "You will be."

      • Braille : Small sharp dots.

        They could be rounded, but Apple would want 47 squazillion dollars.

    • by I_Voter (987579)
      If this article was designed as click-bait - perhaps that explains quality of the articles we see on Slashdot.
      • And, as per the discussion on ad-blocking, that pissed me right off. I am on a slow DSL connection and their streaming ad was not only choppily useless, but ate a bit of bandwidth for nothing I wanted to deal with at all.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @11:19PM (#42079543)

    I was always under the impression that the braille language is meant to be touched, not "read" via sight. Wouldn't it make more sense to just project the letters into the person's retina vs. the dots for Braille?

    • by Nyder (754090)

      I was always under the impression that the braille language is meant to be touched, not "read" via sight. Wouldn't it make more sense to just project the letters into the person's retina vs. the dots for Braille?

      because the blind people do NOT know what the letter is usually, but they know braille.

      don't need to retrain them to use the device, i'm sure one that display letters would be made later.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        because the blind people do NOT know what the letter is usually, but they know braille.

        Where? Every blind person I have known could read letters on a plastic sheet, and write using a special scratching pen. Not to say anything about using a tactile display for zooming in on computer displays.

        While Braille may be good (but not great) for finger reading, and has lots of momentum, it doesn't mean Braille is good for eye reading.

        Our latin letters probably aren't the best either, but at least they contain enough extra information that the letters tend to be readable even if partially obscured,

      • by Shavano (2541114) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @12:26PM (#42082109)

        I was always under the impression that the braille language is meant to be touched, not "read" via sight. Wouldn't it make more sense to just project the letters into the person's retina vs. the dots for Braille?

        because the blind people do NOT know what the letter is usually, but they know braille.

        don't need to retrain them to use the device, i'm sure one that display letters would be made later.

        People with retinitis pigmentosa are formerly sighted. It's not a given that they know braille and almost a given that they can recognized standard letters. Braille was chosen because of the crudity of the device.

        • I guess the trials are being done with braille, but eventually they will be able to project whatever font the user wants, even *shudder* comic sans.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @11:42PM (#42079627)

      In the case of people born blind, they were only taught to read braille. It might actually be more difficult for someone to learn a brand new character set AND adjust to "seeing" the words.

      • According to the article this only works with people who have had a degenerative eye disease called retinal pigmentosis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retinitis_pigmentosa), which slowly destroys the person's peripheral vision. It wouldn't work with people who didn't have functional optic nerves to begin with. I think it's more a case of braille being simpler to transmit via electrodes (number and position of dots compared to the entire shape of a letter) as other commenters have mentioned.
    • by korgitser (1809018) on Friday November 23, 2012 @11:47PM (#42079653)

      I'd also go with the fact that braille is 6-bit byte binary. That's about as simple i/o as you can get in this area.

    • by Mal-2 (675116) on Friday November 23, 2012 @11:54PM (#42079681) Homepage Journal

      Braille is a six-bit binary code. This was done largely because the previous system -- raised type being "read" by fingers -- was slow and inadequate. Whether the input comes through your fingertips or through the optic nerve matters little. If the bandwidth is low, it helps a lot of the content is pre-digitized. That's what Braille does.

    • by kawabago (551139) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @12:21AM (#42079795)
      You can't assume blind people are familiar with the alphabet as we see it. They recognize a letter as a dot pattern instead of latin letter. It means 'a' to them be they might never know what 'a' actually looks like.
      • by adolf (21054)

        They recognize a letter as a dot pattern instead of latin letter. It means 'a' to them be they might never know what 'a' actually looks like./blockquote:

        "A" looks like this: .

        • by LoneTech (117911)

          Nope, it looks like this: â
          ââzâ"â' âââââ'ââ'ââz âââzâzâ'â--âZâ

          • by LoneTech (117911)

            Sorry. I naïvely expected Slashdot to do something right, and not mangle my text input beyond all recognition. Slashdot filters out Braille letters even if entered in HTML entity form, so what I tried to enter does not seem possible.

        • by Nethead (1563)

          No, that's an E. A is di-dah.

      • by Shavano (2541114)
        You CAN assume that when the patient is blind because of retinitis pigmentosa, as the article states.
    • Sure, if you want to make them learn an entire new alphabet they're never going to use in any other context.

      • What if they wanted to write for sighted people?

        Are there blind people who can do handwriting? I guess it must be pretty hard to learn if you've always been blind, but since sighted people can write while looking elsewhere ones who become blind can probably remember how to do it.

  • Ready?, two ad videos that start playing with audio on the same page?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Hmm... haven't noticed anything like that in ages. Must be this Noscript thing I'm using (includes Flashblock functionality), where the only Flash that runs is the one I allow explicitly. It also prevents news tickers on certain websites from trampling on my CPU, which is also useful.
  • I imagine the OCR is overkill, but this invention could really make printed braille [flickr.com] useful, and turn the fail I just linked to into a win (if you ignore the braille typo). I imagine the recognition would be a lot easier to do (to the likes of QR codes), and it would be really easy to retrofit to existing signs.
    • by Tokah (859694)
      That isn't a typo. Dot3-Dot4 is the grade 2 braille contraction for "st", just as the symbol at the end of the sign is short for "er". (I'm also unsure why they called out one contraction as wrong, but not the other one?)
  • 10 (padding)
    10 (padding)
    11 (padding)
    very (contracted)

    11 (padding)
    11 (padding)
    00 (padding)
    "go" (contracted)
    10 (padding)
    01 (padding)
    10 (padding)
    "o"
    11 (padding)
    01 (padding)
    00 (padding)
    "d"
    00 (padding)
    11 (padding)
    10 (padding)
    "!"
    *padding for line-quota
  • Slashdot Summary:

    "An anonymous reader writes 'For the first time, blind people could read street signs with a device that translates letters into Braille and beams the results directly onto a person's eye.'"

    Actual Article:

    "The technology, used primarily for patients with retinal pigmentosis which causes patients to lose the use of their retina but to still have working neurons, can take up to 10 seconds to convert a single letter and minutes to read a single word, and can only be used with words
    • by dissy (172727) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @12:55AM (#42079913)

      If you read a bit further in the article, you'll note the part you quoted is the description of the PREVIOUS model device.

      The CURRENT model, which the summary is talking about, being an improvement to the original, CAN read street signs and at one letter a second.

      I use caps since you don't obviously don't read everything presented :P

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      Slashdot Summary: "An anonymous reader writes 'For the first time, blind people could read street signs with a device that translates letters into Braille and beams the results directly onto a person's eye.'" Actual Article: "The technology, used primarily for patients with retinal pigmentosis which causes patients to lose the use of their retina but to still have working neurons, can take up to 10 seconds to convert a single letter and minutes to read a single word, and can only be used with words that are printed in a large font and held up close to a person's face. Street signs, for example, cannot be read. " __

      Read on. That part describes an older generation device. With the new device, implanted in just one patient, they demonstrated that the patient COULD read street signs and read much faster than the old device, which had an output that to be read with the fingers.

  • by PPH (736903) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @12:35AM (#42079851)

    Beware ..... of ...... the ......vicious .......dog.......

    Auggghhh!

  • I was legally blind for 2 years.

    I am fortunate to be able to see again.

    Think about how it feels to lose your sight.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Gaygirlie (1657131)

      Think about how it feels to lose your sight.

      I have thought about if a few times, and well, I'd lose everything I care about if I lost my eye-sight. If there was zero chance of me getting my eye-sight back within a year I would not hesitate a second to commit a suicide.

  • by renhwa (2254034) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @02:18AM (#42080175)

    "In a trial conducted on a single patient who already used the Argus II device, the person was able to correctly read Braille letters up to 89 percent of the time, and most of the inaccuracy appeared when the participant misread a single letter."

    ...so by "the person was able to correctly read Braille letters up to 89 percent of the time," they mean that at one point during the test, they showed the guy a 9 letter word, and he got 1 letter wrong. Did the patient 1/9 letters wrong overall, or was this one rare mistake? How many words did they have the patient read? The technology is amazing, don't get me wrong, but somebody needs to tell their product testing/PR crews how to convey performance in a remotely meaningful way.

  • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao&hotmail,com> on Saturday November 24, 2012 @03:00AM (#42080303) Homepage

    Now THIS is a retina display!

The key elements in human thinking are not numbers but labels of fuzzy sets. -- L. Zadeh

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