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Blind

In an effort to enable blind people to navigate their surroundings more safely and effectively, researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science have drawn inspiration from an unexpected source: rat whiskers. Read More
Retinal prostheses such as the Argus II, Bio-Retina and the Retina Implant AG microchip all work – more or less – by stimulating the retina’s ganglion cells with light-induced electrical signals. The images produced in the patient’s visual cortex tend to be quite rudimentary, however. This is partially because the rate at which the signals are sent isn’t the same as the rate of neural impulses normally produced by a retina. Now, researchers have deciphered the neural code used by mouse ganglion cells, and used it to create a prosthesis that reportedly restores normal vision to blind mice. They have additionally deciphered the neural code of monkeys, which is close to that used by humans, so a device for use by blind people could also be on the way. Read More
Generally speaking, the vast majority of augmented reality applications that enhance the world around us by overlaying digital content on images displayed on smartphone, tablet or computer screens are aimed squarely at the sighted user. A team from the Fluid Interfaces Group at MIT's Media Lab has developed a chunky finger-worn device called EyeRing that translates images of objects captured through a camera lens into aural feedback to aid the blind. Read More
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a degenerative eye disease that affects 200,000 people in the United States and Europe and has left 15 million people permanently blind worldwide. German biotechnology firm Retina Implant AG has developed a microchip that provides a useful degree of artificial vision in patients who have been blind for even long periods. The 3 x 3 mm (0.118 in) chip is implanted below the surface of the retina where it electrically stimulates the optical tissues. After successful clinical trials in Germany, the chip is now being tested in Hong Kong and Britain before moving on to planned trials in the U.S. Read More
Researchers have discovered a chemical that makes cells in the retinas of blind mice sensitive to light, temporarily restoring some vision. They are working on an improved compound that they hope could one day be used to restore sight in human patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, the most common form of inherited blindness, and macular degeneration, the most common cause of acquired blindness in the developed world. Read More
At least 25-30 million people worldwide have age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the leading causes of blindness in middle-aged and older adults. The Israeli start-up Nano Retina has announced their new Bio-Retina, a tiny array of photodetectors which can be implanted directly on the retinal surface. Ready to enter clinical trials in 2013, the Bio-Retina restores vision to AMD sufferers almost immediately following the simple implantation process. Read More
Blind people in São Carlos, a city in the state of São Paulo in Brazil, have had their lives made easier when they are out and about their city. The municipality has hooked up with Grupo Criar, a company specialized in traffic systems, to design the Busalert app to make it easier and more efficient to use the city’s bus network. Read More
Sensory substitution devices work by converting one type of sensory input into another – examples would be systems such as CASBLiP and EYE 21, which allow the blind to “see” by assigning sounds to images. Now, a team of researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have created a similar wearable device, known as EyeMusic. It “employs pleasant musical scales to convey visual information,” and could one day help the visually impaired more easily perform tasks that the rest of us take for granted. Read More
Like the rest of us, the blind can use speaking navigation apps to find their way around the city. A new Android application developed at Spain’s Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, however, is designed specifically to help blind people get to their destination by bus. Appropriately named OnTheBus, the app could also be used by the deaf, the cognitively-impaired, or anyone else. Read More
A team of researchers at the University of Texas is exploring the possibility of electrically stimulating the visual cortex of the brain to create simple images and shapes. This development could lead to a visual prosthetic device that would effectively "trick" the brain of visually impaired or blind people into seeing ... and such a device, the authors say, is only about five years away. Read More
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