Bionic Eyesight Coming via Contact Lenses

When I first read about this I thought it was some kind of hoax article, but it’s true – Bionic eyesight via contact lenses with specialized circuits and LEDs are now being tested in animals and may be ready for humans soon:  Read the original article at Spectrum IEEE and see the details of the Lens here.

Babak Parviz of the University of Washington writes:

These visions (if I may) might seem far-fetched, but a contact lens with simple built-in electronics is already within reach; in fact, my students and I are already producing such devices in small numbers in my laboratory at the University of Washington, in Seattle …

In this lens concept, an antenna at the periphery collects incoming RF energy from a separate portable transmitter. Power-conversion circuitry provides DC power to other parts of the system and sends instructions to the display control circuit. The display, at the center, might consist of LEDs, which would turn on and off, or LCD-like elements, whose transparency would be modulated by the control circuit. An energy-storage module, perhaps a large capacitor, is connected to a solar cell, which could provide a boost to the lens. A biosensor samples the surface of the cornea, performs an analysis, and provides data to the telecommunication module to transmit to an external computer.

As a contact lens wearer I can only say “Sign me up!” because this would be amazing and probably not even uncomfortable.   Although these initial prototypes don’t yet do the most amazing things such as “eagle eye” quality vision, that technical leap should happen as soon as the innovative energy and money start flowing to a project that may be another step in the direction of human/technological convergence.   Cochlear implants, which allow some deaf folks to hear, are a great example of a mainstream technology that is even more “invasive” than the contact lenses would be.

Technology Report CES 2011 coverage begins November 2010.

Injectable Micro Devices for Chronic Pain

An innovative health company called “Microtransponder” is developing a tiny device – about the size of a grain of rice – that will be injected into patients and will stimulate their nervous system in ways that are shown to reduce chronic pain, help with Tinnitus, and address other medical problems that have typically used more invasive or more elaborate procedures.

In congressional testimony the Microtransponder CEO explained the device and how it can be injected and will stimulating nerve cells.    The entire mechanism is not well understood and the device is still in an early testing phase, though results so far appear to be promising.

Technology Review has more about this innovative health technology, suggesting:

The idea is that the electrical jolts delivered by the device override the neural pain signals being transmitted to the spinal cord.