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Medicine Science Technology

Wireless Implants Promise Superior Vision Restoration 52

ananyo writes, quoting Nature: "The development of retinal implants has been dogged by problems of unwieldiness since the first implantable stimulator for vision restoration was developed in 1968. Now researchers have come up with a solution that overcomes many of the problems by the use of special glasses that fire infrared signals into the eye and onto an implanted array of silicon photodiodes. The system, tested in rats, simplifies what needs to be implanted and both transmits visual data and power directly to the implants, eliminating the need for any bulky external power source (abstract)."
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Wireless Implants Promise Superior Vision Restoration

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sign me up!

    • Good thing they included 'vision' in the title.

      I was just imagining another kind of wireless implant and how they might alter a persons stature.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Geordi's visor gives him super vision. This visor doesn't. In fact, your vision will still be far less than a normal person's, but it would be better than total blindness.

  • by seanzig ( 834642 ) on Monday May 14, 2012 @07:01PM (#40000551)
    until they make them like Laforge's visor.
    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      I won't be impressed until they give the user the extended frequency possibilities of his visor. But, if one remembers how things looked when they showed his visor input to the bridge crew, it wasn't exactly Vision++...
      • by suutar ( 1860506 )
        The problem with showing that stuff to the bridge crew is they're only equipped for the normal red-violet range, so anything the visor is detecting has to get mapped into that range, and since most folks can't see IR or UV, nobody worries about glare or reflection in those frequencies (in most cases), so without a lot of practice, a wider range is going to look like crap to a normal viewer. Lots of practice, or using a sliding filter to determine what frequencies you want to see now, should make it more use
    • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Monday May 14, 2012 @07:30PM (#40000739)

      ...the use of special glasses that fire infrared signals into the eye and onto an implanted array of silicon photodiodes. The system, tested in rats...

      I won't be impressed until they show us pictures of rats wearing tiny eyeglasses.

      • by ignavus ( 213578 )

        ...the use of special glasses that fire infrared signals into the eye and onto an implanted array of silicon photodiodes. The system, tested in rats...

        I won't be impressed until they show us pictures of rats wearing tiny eyeglasses.

        But ... maybe large glasses are fashionable amongst rats, like the 1960s for humans.

      •'s one. []

        I gotta admit, that was my first reaction, too. Missed it by that much...

    • by captjc ( 453680 )

      I would rather have Citizen G'Kar's wireless prosthetic eye. Remove from socket, place in a room, walk away. Instant spy camera.

  • Awsome kind of frankenstein technology! But something tells me that regenerative medicine (simply regrow your own retina from your own genetic material) is much better if not the only right research direction to approach here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Short term this is the best you can do. Medium-term regenerative medicine seems better. Long-term implanted devices should surpass biological eyes so you'd want them even if you had normal eyesight. We need this kind of research for both the short term and the long term.

      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        Long-term implanted devices should surpass biological eyes so you'd want them even if you had normal eyesight.

        You would have someone sticking needles in your eye if your eye was working fine? I have an implant in my left eye that gives me better than 20/20 at all distances, I'm 60 and don't even need reading glasses, but I wouldn't have had the surgery if all that was wrong with the eye was age-related farsightedness.

        All surgery is dangerous. People have died from such minor surgeries as tonsellectomies and

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      Regrowing a new retina would be the ultimate, but given that the retina is a huge bundle of nerves I doubt we'll see that anytime soon. This seems to be stimulating existing receptors to give some vision (I assume very bad, but better than nothing).
    • Of course the problem with implanting a new eye is the connections. But maybe growing the eye in situ, and stimulating neuronal growth into the (growing) retina?

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )
      I agree, but then you can't effectively have superpowers. By augmenting our bodies with synthetic constructs, we can.
      • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
        If you can regrow the body part, there shouldn't be any reason that you couldn't regrow it better.
    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Awsome kind of frankenstein technology!

      No, Frankenstein made his monster out of human parts. My friend's transplanted corneas and liver are Frankenstein tech, my CrystaLens eye implant is cybernetics, as is this retinal implant.

      I agree that being able to grow a new eyeball would be much better than an implant, but the science is nowhere near that far yet. This gives patients at least some sight, and remember, a huge number of people are blind from retinal degeneration, and few with that disease are likely t

  • I imagine this will become a valuable tool for the government, **AA, and all of Senator Leahy's friends to censor what we see.

    • by dmbasso ( 1052166 ) on Monday May 14, 2012 @07:56PM (#40000945)

      Yeah, reading the summary I instantly remembered Ghost in the Shell - Standalone Complex, where augmented people could easily have their eyes hacked. Too bad it is infrared, imagine the possibilities if it was wifi. :)

      • by suutar ( 1860506 )
        the longer the wavelength the harder to focus. That said, if you could use it to see the WAP and had some extra circuitry to flag it if it's unsecured.... :)
        • Isn't it the opposite? Like, gamma-rays were thought to be unfocusable until just recently, when they made a sandwich of diffraction patterns achieving an IOR of 1.00000000001, or something like that?

          Anyway, I was talking about the communication between the photoreceptor array and the optic nerve link... if you could hijack the wifi link you could do some interesting stuff. With infrared you could still flood the general direction of the eye with your signal, but I bet it would not be too comfortable, neith

          • You can focus low frequency EM signals, with magnetic lenses, but the signal will diverge from the path. Contrary to popular belief EM signals don't go in a straight line, but "waver": a perfect beam will get wider over a distance. How long you can keep the beam focussed depends on the frequency: low frequency signals get wider fast and high frequency signals stay better on course.
            This means a TV signal at 100 Mhz can have a building between the transmitter and the reciever, as long as the distance betwee
  • Implanted tech (Score:4, Informative)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Monday May 14, 2012 @07:30PM (#40000731)
    I've already heard of diabetic pumps failing when exposed to airport scanners, and those have less sophisticated electronics. I imagine if these were ever approved, we're going to have a lot of people going blind everytime they fly. The problem with wireless medical technology is part 16 of the FCC rules: It's perfectly legal to overload them with high energy RF, with potentially lethal results.
  • What I want to know is; how did they get the rats to wear the glasses?

  • by willworkforbeer ( 924558 ) on Monday May 14, 2012 @07:42PM (#40000837)
    Implants always cause my vision to suddenly improve.
  • Im in ur glasses makin u watch goatse.

    Given the poor record that medical device manufacturers have with regard to device security (about as bad as automotive manufacturers have with securing the wireless devices now common in newer cars, e.g. keyless entry, tire pressure sensors, cabin climate sensors)... yeah, I'll have a SPECIAL show for you, Jordie.

    ObST:TNG []

  • One could find out what person wearing the implants was looking at

Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man -- who has no gills. -- Ambrose Bierce