News about a brain implant that will revolutionize the medicine and aid blind people emerged recently. A team of scientists found a way to allow blind people to see again. The team from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston focused on developing a device that runs by skipping the eye and relying only on visual data from a camera right to electrodes implanted in the brain.
The brain implant allows both sighted and blind participants to see the shape of letters. Such a development it’s only a step away to a “visual prosthetic” that would let blind people completely regain sight.
A Device That Will Allow Blind People Regain Their Sight
What the team of scientists developed is remarkable. They utilized electrical stimulation to “draw” letters straight on patients’ brains. The patients were able to see the outlines of shapes and could precisely identify lots of letters. They also described viewing glowing lines or dots shaping the letters, similar to skywriting.
The new device is different from other visual aids that handled every electrode like a pixel. Scientists traced some outlines, rather than attempting to create shapes from various spots of light. According to Michael Beauchamp, the main author of the research, their inspiration was a concept of drawing a letter in the palm of someone’s hand.
The development, however, still needs time to reach its final phases, as the brain is one of the most complex organs. Beauchamp added: “In this research, we stimulated only a small fraction of half a billion neurons with a handful of electrodes.” So, a significant next step for the team will be to join forces with neuro engineers to create electrode arrays with thousands of electrodes. The stimulation process will be more accurate, as well.
Using new hardware and enhanced stimulation algorithms will also support the scientists’ work. They will be closer to a successful device that could fulfill blind people’s dreams to regain their sight.