Over a decade of work by scientists working in Melbourne Australia’s Monash University has developed a unique device that uses a combination of smartphone-style electronics and brain-implanted microelectrodes to restore vision to the blind. The system has already been shown to work in preclinical and non-human studies in sheep, and researchers are now preparing for an initial human clinical trial in Melbourne.
This new technology could bypass the damaged optic nerves that are often responsible for what is known as technical clinical blindness. It wirelessly translates information gathered by a camera and interpreted by a vision processor unit and custom software into a series of tiles implanted directly in the brain. These tiles convert the image data into electrical impulses, which are then transmitted to neurons in the brain via microelectrodes that are thinner than human hair.
There are still a few steps to be taken before this can actually be manufactured and used commercially ̵
Animal studies are very different from human studies, but the research team believes their technology holds promise well beyond vision. They believe that the same approach could offer benefits and treatment options to patients with other conditions that have a basic neurological cause, including paralysis.
If that sounds familiar, it could be due to Elon Musk Recently, ambitions have been revealed to use his company’s Neuralink’s similar brain implant technology to achieve such results as well. Musk’s project is hardly the first to envision how devices combined with modern software and technology can overcome biological limitations, and these efforts by Monash have a much longer tradition of turning that type of science into something that makes life more mundane Could affect people.