Image:-Professor Fan and colleagues broke new ground by developing a high-density array of photosensors that serves as a retina.
Referred to by the research team as a "biomimetic eye," the device is a marriage of modern technology and the designs of nature itself. It consists of an artificial hemispheric retina, and an array of sensors capturing and relaying a live image. It's rather complicated to get it to interface with a human brain.
Modern medicine is rather unbelievable. Over the years, scientists and doctors have come up with ways to replace some of the vital components of the body with artificial versions that can restore, or even save, a person's quality of life from death.
But eyes are pretty special, and the way they communicate with the brain means designing an artificial one, and implanting is not exactly as simple as "plug-and-play." It's a huge hurdle to get a device to interface with the human brain.
The biggest challenge already overcome by the researchers is cramming the technology into a spherical shape that could potentially be used as an implant. They have not tested the device on a living creature as yet, but that's just around the corner.
A big step closer to a true bionic eye: This one has liquid metal "nerves," ionic liquid "humor," and light sensors that match the responsiveness & sensitivity of the real thing. https://t.co/z8HEgJVzqz pic.twitter.com/2bavr0ruFG— Corey S. Powell (@coreyspowell) May 24, 2020
The researchers are already lining up tests in both animals and humans as Daily Mail reports. Still, much work remains to be done and the scientists are quick to note that the device in its current state is just the beginning of what might be possible in a few years ' time.
The eye 's ability to render images in its current state is not the greatest. It produces a low-resolution image capable of rendering alphabet letters but more complicated images will require a higher sensor density. That might sound like a huge mark against it, but the researchers say that the density of the sensors and the resolution of the resulting image could actually beat a real human eye as the technology evolves.
In robotics applications the synthetic eye is also considered. The idea of an artificially-intelligent robot walking around with better-than-mine eyes is a bit unsettling, but that could be what the future holds.
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