Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Vision

The sunburst diving beetle can teach us a thing or two about bifocal imaging

We all know that we shouldn’t make fun of people with glasses, but now it appears that bugs with bifocals deserve our respect too. Researchers from the University of Cincinnati (UC) have discovered that the larvae of the sunburst diving beetle (Thermonectus marmoratus) have bifocal eyes. As far as they are aware, this is the first known example of truly bifocal lenses in the animal kingdom. Previously, only prehistoric trilobites were suspected of having had bifocal vision. Besides being a big hairy deal in the bug world, this news could also have implications for human technology.  Read More

Scientists hope to emulate the honeybee's aerial navigational skills through human technol...

Day after day, honeybees are able to travel back and forth between a food source and their hive, even in a constantly-changing environment. Given that the insects have relatively small brains, scientists have determined that they rely chiefly on vision and hard-wired visual processing abilities to achieve such a feat. To better understand that process, scientists from the Cognitive Interaction Technology Center of Excellence at Bielefeld University, Germany, have created an artificial honeybee’s eye. Using the device, they hope to unlock the secrets of the insects’ sensing, processing and navigational skills, and apply them to human technology such as micro air vehicles (MAVs).  Read More

The FDA has finally approved a miniature eye telescope that will aid sufferers of end-stag...

After five years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finally given approval to an eye telescope that treats macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. The Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT) has been developed by VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies, Inc. as part of Centrasight, a new patient care system which treats end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  Read More

Mice suffering retinitis pigmentosa have had their sight restored using gene therapy (Imag...

The classic nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice might need to be rewritten thanks to researchers from the Friedrich Miescher Institute (FMI) and the Institut de la Vision in Paris. Using gene therapy, the scientists have have restored sight in mice by repairing the function of cone photoreceptors made defective by a genetic eye condition.  Read More

First retina created from stem cells could help millions

In another world first in the fight against degenerative eye disorders, scientists from the Universtiy of California, Irvine, have created an eight-layer early-stage retina from human embryonic stem cells. Not only is this the world's first three-dimensional complex tissue structure to be made from stem cells, but it also marks the first step toward the development of transplant-ready retinas to treat eye disorders affecting millions.  Read More

Bionic vision - ironically, we only have low-resolution images.

Researchers at Bionic Vision Australia (BVA) have produced a prototype version of a bionic eye implant that could be ready to start restoring rudimentary vision to blind people as soon as 2013. The system consists of a pair of glasses with a camera built in, a processor that fits in your pocket, and an ocular implant that sits against the retina at the back of the eye and electronically stimulates the retinal neurons that send visual information to the brain. The resulting visual picture is blocky and low-res at this point, but the technology is bound to improve, and even in its current form it's going to be a major life-changer for those with no vision at all. And the future potential - even for sighted people - is fascinating.  Read More

Hot topics - The most read stories of 2009

It's been almost 525,600 minutes since we raised a glass to welcome the arrival of 2009 and in that time we've witnessed a daily avalanche of innovation which precipitated thousands of stories on Gizmag. Though popularity is rarely an accurate measure of quality (take Governments f'rinstance), we peered into the database to create the following list of the most read stories on Gizmag during the last 12 months, and ... the medal winners are, a gun that kills hidden people, a washing machine that doesn't use water, and cure for multiple sclerosis. May 2010 be a good one for you and yours!  Read More

Nao - he sees, can find a ball, recognizes different touches from humans and communicate v...

The versatile humanoid robot Nao caught Gizmag's attention at the 2009 International Robot Exhibition (iREX 2009). What Nao lacks in size, he makes up for in features and capabilities. Nao can see (via two cameras), will react to touch, can surf the Web and can interact with other Naos. He can speak (in English or French, so far) by reading out any file stored locally in his storage space or captured from a website RSS flow. The bot is fitted with an accelerometer and gyrometer so he won't fall down, he's also equipped with two pairs of ultra-sound senders/receivers on his torso that give feedback on several echoes so Nao is aware of obstacles close by and can avoid them.  Read More

The Popeye audio visual robotic head developed by the POP team

The ease with which human beings make sense of their environment through a range of sensory signals belies the complex processing involved. Approaches to give robots the same purposeful perception we take for granted have typically involved studying visual and auditory processes independently. By combining data from both sound and vision European researchers have developed technology that could facilitate robotic understanding and responses to human behavior and even conversations, bringing us closer to a future where humanoid robots can act as guides, mix with people, or use perception to infer appropriate actions.  Read More

 The Cyclops mobile robotic platform is designed to be used as a surrogate for blind perso...

Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have created a remote-controlled robot to help test the effectiveness of visual prostheses, such as an artificial retina, which are implanted into visually-impaired patients. Cyclops the robot - or, rather, the mobile robotic platform, or rover - lets scientists “see” the results that human patients could expect without having to test the device on them first. It is hoped that this approach may spare them some unnecessary procedures and one day lead to giving blind people the freedom of independence.  Read More

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