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.

CES 2010 Tech Summits.

CES brings a lot more than gadgets to the table in Las Vegas.   Tech Summits focus on niche markets in technology and offer products and information related to many specific niches such as education, moms, children, seniors, and more.   Here are some briefs on several of these summits coming up at CES in January:

Kids@Play Summit (http://ces2010.kidsatplaysummit.com/)

– Dynabook Creator, Alan Kay; MIT Media Lab professor Mitch Resnick

– Exhibitors Include: InternetSafety.com, Robonica, and more

Mommy Tech Summit (http://ces2010.mommytechsummit.com/)

– Olympic champion Shannon Miller, the most decorated American gymnast in history and key spokes-mom for BabyPlus

– Exhibitors Include: General Motors, Toshiba, Black and Decker, Mobi, Picnik, BabyPlus, Eye-Fi, Muvee, Print Shop, Smilebox, TxtBlocker, Pandigital, Spectorsoft

Higher Ed Tech Summit (http://ces2010.higheredtechsummit.com/)

– Under Secretary for the US Department of Education, Martha Kanter; Harvard Graduate School of Education professor in learning technologies Chris Dede
– Exhibitors Include: Zipcar, 2Tor, Cengage Chegg.com, Kaplan University, Princeton Review, Pearson, more

Digital Health Summit (http://ces2010.digitalhealthsummit.com/)

– Bruce Henderson, board director of Continua Healthcare Alliance, & Jonathan Linkous, executive director of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA)

– Exhibitors Include: Continua Health Alliance, American Express Open, Easy Scripts, Inc., Smoke Anywhere USA, Sunlighten, U.S. Jaclean, and more

Silvers Summit (http://ces2010.silverssummit.com/)

– Jim “Oz” Osborn from the Quality of Life Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University, & George Dennis, president of TVEars

– Exhibitors Include: First Street, WellCore, Myine Electronics, Jitterbug, ClearSounds, Dakim, Doro, Sonic Alert, TV Ears, and more

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.

Freeplay’s Humanitarian devices – remote technologies for great causes

One of my *favorite* companies at CES was Freeplay with several innovative humanitarian technology solutions as well as their innovative line of self-powered lanterns, radios, and more.

As part of their Foundation Work, Freeplay is building cheap, self powered devices for remote medicine in developing world and another device to charge One Laptop Project computers.   Below are three such devices – all self powered.    Emergency Radio, One Laptop Per Child Power crank (I’m not clear if this is better than the one built into those devices but I think it’s to be used for OLPC plus other devices), and one of the best innovations at CES 2009 which is an inexpensive fetal heart monitor to be used by nurses and doctors in the field to help lower infant mortality.    Freeplay’s work in this field will help save thousands of lives very cheaply because the lack of such medical data in the field is a key reason for the high mortality rates in the developing world.