Name: Elliot Whaley Topic: Eyes on the prize, bionic vision Description

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Name: Elliot Whaley

Topic: Eyes on the prize, bionic vision

Description: This research explores, in order of development, bionic vision. It begun with improving human vision through head pieces connected to the brain. Then there are more advanced glasses called EyeTaps that went beyond correcting vision. The latest stage of development being contact lenses that can aid a human to see better than 20/20 and link their vision to computer devices.

Motivation: Bionic vision is an important area of research with a significant impact on blind people who with the help of bionic vision are capable of seeing again by implanting computer chips in the brain and using bionic glasses. The military can use these lenses to improve a pilot or soldiers vision to give them an aid in battle. Video games, movies, iphones and your computer could be brought right to your field of vision. Special contacts could be used by doctors to zoom in on a patient in the operating table.


  • [1] Jennifer Anderson, “Bionic Vision: Rare Operation Brings Sight to Blind Woman” Ergonomics Today,2005.

[A blind woman from Missouri participated in a rare operation to give her sight after she lost in early in her life. She is only the 16th person in the world to undergo surgery that requires wiring a sci-fi device to her brain. The device functions as a prosthetic cornea, by directing light to the interior of the eye. An eye piece is placed on a pair of sunglasses and connected to an electrode inside her skull. Then a small camera on the eye piece sends video signals to a computer where it interprets the information from the signal and sends it through two cables plugged into her skull. That information informs the electrodes to now stimulate her brain, which creates a dot matrix image. Until her brain adapts to the technology, she can only see outlines. All sixteen operations have been done in Portugal because the FDA prohibits the use of this procedure in the U.S., due to its potential high risks. As of 2005 the procedure is only available for people he have had sight at one time and lost it. This is only one case of an old technology that has been changed and has evolved. This article does not go into great depth about how the procedure works but rather scratches the surface of this rare procedure. ]

  • Steve Mann, Continuous lifelong capture of personal experience with EyeTap, Proceedings of the 1st ACM workshop on Continuous archival and retrieval of personal experiences, p.1-21, October 15-15, 2004, New York, New York, USA  

[This paper explains the history of how EyeTap technology came about and how it is used presently and its future uses. The author wants to use the device as a lifelong cyborglog, where the glasses will record everything that it sees. This system is called the EyeTap which is an experience capturing system. First you have the electric glasses that unlike tradition glasses can modify light computationally. These glasses are unique because they have to potential in the future to update a person eye prescription directly to the device via download. EyeTap combines all visual aids together for example, correcting vision deficiencies or night vision. Traditional (optical) eyeglasses are limited to modifying light by refraction, whereas next generation eyeglasses, called, EyeTap devices, can also modify light computationally which correct vision deficiencies. The main focus of the device is to create a lifelong cyberlog knows as a “glog” that could help people remember better by recalling past recorded events in ones’ life. This device started as a big clumpy device over the eyes however, in the past 30 years its development has led to smaller more visually attractive device resembling everyday eyeglasses. As a form of electronic visual aid, surveillance system, and wearable camearaphone, this device functions as natural extensions of the mind and body. The research and testing of the device has come very far but still faces many difficulties. One of these difficulties is the problem of inequiveillance which is the imbalance between surveillance and sousveillance. The device is functional and is used by the developers but is not on the market. ]

  • Corinna Wu,”Supernormal Vision, A focus on adaptive optics improves images of the eye and boosts vision,” Science News, 1997, pp.1-3.

[This article focuses on the possibilities of adaptive optics being fused with the human body resulting in eagle like vision and the ability to cure blindness. Adaptive optics is a technique originally designed to sharpen images for military surveillance devices and astronomical telescopes. In relation to the human eye, adaptive optics allows people to see at high resolution, but it also works in reverse allowing researches to capture detailed images of the eye’s retina. The author goes through a brief history of an optic system that strives to improve vision through computer technology. Supernormal vision, a concept normally seen in comic books and cartoons is becoming a reality. People no longer have to settle for just 20/20 vision with the help of glasses or contacts. Rather an average person can obtain supernormal vision with the use of special contacts. Humans went from using goggles to see in the dark or binoculars so see far too recent technology that enables the human eye to see finer detail than ordinarily possible. David R. Williams of the University of Rochester has developed an approach to obtain this vision. The goal of this technology is to improve human vision but in the present focus on preventing vision loss and correcting eyesight problems. This is done by collecting light waves with a deformable mirror which can be shaped to compensate for distortions in an image; then coupled the mirror with a high resolution camera and takes images of the retina to correct the distortions produced by the imperfections in the eye. This method was used to help cure bad vision but, when people with normal vision used the adaptive optics they experienced up to six fold improvement in sight. ]

[The author describes the possible capabilities of a pair of contact lenses created by a team at the University of Washington. These contact lenses combined with a computer chip have the capability to connect to a wireless device and provide a visual image of the data that would normal display on the device into your field of vision. High –resolution images will be displayed before the user such as video games, texts, and music. The exact details of how this system will work are unknown. For example questions like where is the information going to be stored and how will this displayed image effect our regular vision have no answer at the present day. This idea came about when researchers at the University of Washington felt they could make a really tiny functional device that could be embedded into a contact lens. Babak Parviz, professor at the University of Washington is a leader in the research and development of this technology. He told the Times.” Our goal is to integrate a display which can do everything that an iPhone or computer does now – but in front of your eye. A user could manipulate the document by blinking or by using his voice.” A metal circuit and light –emitting diodes are placed in a polymer-based lens where the lens is biologically compatible with the eye. Ultra-thin antennas, a few nanometers thick, are used to send information wirelessly to devices. Currently this device has only been tested on rabbits and the system was not turned on so its current capabilities are unknown.]

  • Boyle, J.; Maeder, A.; Boles, W., "Scene specific imaging for bionic vision implants," Image and Signal Processing and Analysis, 2003. ISPA 2003. Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium, pp. 423-427 Vol.1, 18-20 Sept. 2003

[This paper discusses the ways in which bionic vision can be adjusted depending on the scene type. The author goes through a list of scenes and how the visual aid devices could be best suited to increase their effectiveness. For a scene to be translated into an algorithm it first must be categorized. There are some automatic scene categorization models, for instance Chernyak and Stark created one using Bayes’ theorem. Segment features such as aspect ratio and average color are obtained from a test image. Once the scene as but accurately determined by the user the authors want to apply context dependent importance weighting to the image. Image mapping, finding the most important object in an image, is used through several algorithms like lossless compression, military target detection and advertising. Their work applies to importance map methods which bring together aspects of image that are known to influence the attention of the human viewer. Such features include shape, size and contrast. They tested their proposal that scene weighted processing will improve the perception of low quality images. They did a test on 20 people with normal vision. They were shown several images some of low quality and asked to rank them. Their experiment confirmed that scene dependent importance mapping is useful in the automatic optimization of low quality images. ]

Other related sources:

  • Gregg J Suaning, Nigel H Lovell, Klaus Schindhelm, Minas T Coroneo,” The bionic eye (electronic visual prosthesis): A review, ” Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, 1998

[Review describes past efforts, investigate the present state of the art and indicate the obstacles that must be overcome in order to bring an electronic visual prosthesis to fruition.]

  • Brendan Z Allison, Elizabeth Winter Wolpaw, Jonathan R Wolpaw. (2007) Brain–computer interface systems: progress and prospects. Expert Review of Medical Devices 4:4, 463-474
    online publication date: 1-Jul-2007.

[Discusses the structure and functions of BCI systems, clarifies terminology and addresses practical applications. Progress and opportunities in the field are also identified and explicated.]

  • Alexi Mostrous, “And next- the contact lens that lets e-mail really get in your face,” TimesOnline, 2008.

[The author describes the possible capabilities of a contact lenses created by a team at the University of Washington. This contract lens combined with a computer chip will be able to connect to wireless device and provide a visual image of the device in your field of vision.]

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