Skip to main content

This groundbreaking bionic eye system restores lost vision with a retina chip

Clinical trials of a pair of smartglasses designed to help legally blind people to see and read letters again are currently taking place in two cities in the United States. The “bionic eye” technology is made by a Paris-based biotech firm called Pixium Vision. It consists of a visor-like pair of glasses featuring an embedded camera. Images captured by the camera are beamed to a microchip implanted in the wearer’s retina. This signal is then converted into electrical signals that can be understood by the brain.

Participants in the trial had no central vision prior to the microchips being implanted. One year after the chips were implanted, the majority have regained the ability to read to some extent. Some can read only individual letters, while others are able to read sequences of letters. The image created by the implant is just 378 pixels in total. While this is far from restoring a person’s vision to 20/20, it nonetheless represents a significant improvement.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The hope is that it could be used to treat patients with eye conditions such as macular degeneration, which cannot currently be reversed. Macular degeneration affects the area of the retina that is responsible for the central part of a person’s vision. As a result, people with extreme cases of macular degeneration can have the middle part of their frame of vision either severely blurred or entirely dark. Pixium Vision’s implant could also potentially be used to treat retinitis pigmentosa. This group of genetic conditions results in the progressive loss of photoreceptors in the eye. The technology can not be used for people who were born blind. That’s because it requires a fully developed optic nerve.

The current U.S. trials are taking place in Pittsburgh and Miami. Another, larger-scale study is planned to be carried out in Europe in 2020.

This isn’t the only smart technology being tested out for blind patients at the moment. Researchers at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine are testing a device called Orion, which works in a similar way. It has already resulted in partial sight being restored to six participants in an experimental study.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
MediaTek’s 5G SoC is a groundbreaking, integrated 5G chip for smartphones
mediatek 5g plans office

During Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year, MediaTek demonstrated its M70 5G modem and showed it connecting to a Nokia base station at 4.7Gbps. Now, the company has announced the M70 modem will be integrated into a brand-new, world first 5G system-on-a-chip (SoC). It’s called, rather generically, the MediaTek 5G SoC, and it’s considerably more groundbreaking that its name suggests.

It’s the world’s first integrated 5G chip, built on the 7nm process, that’s ready to connect your smartphone to Sub-6 5G signals. That means no separate 5G modems split off from the CPU, and because it’s built using a 7nm process, it dissipates heat more effectively, meaning improved energy management for higher performance. This will be particularly noticeable when using artificial intelligence and features reliant on the GPU, says MediaTek.

Read more
Kia’s bionic-looking electric concept car packs a 21-screen infotainment system
Kia Imagine concept

Kia is looking to make a splash at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show by unveiling a head-turning electric concept named Imagine. The car surfs some of the biggest waves sweeping across the automotive industry while poking fun at one of the biggest trends in car design.

"Automotive design is about capturing the heart and making it beat that bit faster for that bit longer -- and we believe that there’s absolutely no reason why that should change simply because the car is electric," Gregory Guillaume, the vice president of design for Kia Europe, said in a statement.

Read more
Abode Systems upgrades its smart home gateway with new chip and Z-Wave Plus
abode systems gateway upgrade essentials kit  lifestyle holding

Palo Alto-based Abode Systems, which manufactures the popular Abode Essentials smart home security kit, is adding an upgrade in 2019 by releasing the second generation of its Abode smart home gateway, adding optional 4G cellular backup connectivity and enhanced Z-Wave functionality compatible with Z-Wave Plus.

Most users won’t be able to tell a big difference as the new device looks identical to the previous generation, and performs all the same smart home and smart security functions as the previous generation. Power users and Z-Wave fanatics will be given the opportunity to buy the new gateway as a stand-alone product in 2019 for $200. In addition to the previously mentioned benefits, the new gateway features an onboard Z-Wave 500 Series chip, which enables Z-Wave’s enhanced security protocols through Z-Wave Plus.

Read more