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Biotech Medicine

DoE-Sponsored Project Readies Human Trial For Artificial Retinas 82

An anonymous reader writes "'The blind will see again,' could be the motto of the Artificial Retina Project, which is getting ready to implant a 60-pixel artificial retina chip into 10 blind patients later this year. 60-pixels doesn't sound like much, but the 1st gen artificial retina brought tears to the eyes of its six recipients, who claim they can now count large objects with just 16-pixels. If all goes well, a 200-pixel retina will be ready in three years; the chip used is of a 1.2-micron CMOS process, with both power and video supplied wirelessly." (And this is sponsored by the Department of Energy for what reason?)
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DoE-Sponsored Project Readies Human Trial For Artificial Retinas

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  • Re:In other news, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @02:47PM (#23955195)

    +1 for perfect refrence

    i was thinking the same thing when i read that

  • by kiehlster ( 844523 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @02:53PM (#23955325) Homepage
    This is nearing the equivalent of Jordi LaForge's visor. In fact, we could probably create a cheap version of it with a little product design. From what I saw of the 1st-gen, it makes the patient look like a total geek with a web cam over their eye. Not much better than a kid wearing a gauze eye-patch. Even MIT's newer wearable computer enthusiasts are more attractive. But to really match sci-fi, we need to approach the idea of detaching the eye and replacing it with a fully functional robotic implant. At least we're seeing some progress. It's amazing how far it is in comparison to paralysis treatment.
  • DOE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dietlein ( 191439 ) <(dietlein) (at) (> on Thursday June 26, 2008 @02:54PM (#23955351)

    And this is sponsored by the Department of Energy for what reason?

    For the same reason the Department of Commerce is responsible for our atomic clocks?

    Seriously though, the DOC, DOE, etc., each have a variety of national labs, each of which have many areas of research. I'd suppose the DOE's expertise in high-reliability sensors (for light and all other wavelengths of radiation) is one reason why they mesh well with this project.
  • by neokushan ( 932374 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @03:05PM (#23955625)

    I don't care how geeky I look, if I lose my eyesight I'll wear whatever is required to see again.

  • Why the DOE? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @03:13PM (#23955777) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps because the DOE has a dedicated Office of Science, of which the Office of Biological & Environmental Research is a member? Gosh, that was hard to pick out of the very first link you posted.
    Or, in a more snide retort: (And this is sponsored by the Department of Energy for what reason?)
    Because the US Department of Fucked Up Eyeballs was out to lunch the day of the planning meeting.
  • by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @03:13PM (#23955793) Homepage Journal

    Forgive me for asking, but even simple webcams are now 0.3 megapixels... so why are these artificial retinas so low on the pixel count?

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @03:39PM (#23956443) Homepage

    I don't care how geeky I look, if I lose my eyesight I'll wear whatever is required to see again.

    On a serious note, I completely agree, yet at the same time would be very leery of doing so. The main reason? Upgrade paths. They've got a 60-pixel retina they're trying now. Much better than being blind, but much worse than the next gen which will have 4,000 pixels, then there'll be a 64k pixel one, and then the multi-megapixel eyes after that. And then they'll come out with one that not only approximates full human vision, but gives you Geordi LaForge-like super-vision as well. But alas, I can't get that one, because the upgrade to the 64k pixel eye required splicing directly into my optic nerve and now they don't have enough to work with.

    So basically I wouldn't be completely comfortable with it until it reached the nearly-normal stage (and I'll just live without the super-vision upgrade), but realistically, it very well may not be at that point when I actually need it. This would make an otherwise no-brainer (see vs not see) a lot tougher.

    Not that I'm complaining. This is fantastic news.

  • by icegreentea ( 974342 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @03:49PM (#23956665)
    Maybe it's because they want to have a working model NOW and not in 10/20 years. I believe what you're describing is what we call feature creep. Better to get the core idea down first. As for why its only 60 pixels. Part of it certainly is power and size. They had enough trouble fitting 60 pixels worth of sensors and processing and power in. Getting more in is going to be hard.
  • by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @04:51PM (#23957985) Homepage

    If you lose your eyesight, the "vision centers" in your brain will begin to atrophy, and you'll lose the mental capacity to process images.

    Best to "exercise" those areas as much as possible. Once those nerves die, they're gone for good. Figure out how to grow those back, and you'll nearly have achieved the holy grail of medicine.

  • Doesn't exactly seem like the most glamorous lab job, but the potential for learning seems amazing.

    "So, what did you do after college?

    "I personally helped a genius for two years."

    Heck, even if he told you to not ask questions, you could probably absorb a surprising amount just being close by.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2008 @08:55PM (#23961297)

    You really think it would be any more geeky than the bluetooth phones people wear on their ears all the time?

I am here by the will of the people and I won't leave until I get my raincoat back. - a slogan of the anarchists in Richard Kadrey's "Metrophage"