back to article Bionic eyes to be a thing in the next decade? Possibly. Boffins mark sensor-density breakthrough

Scientists at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology claim to have developed a robotic eye they say mimics the equivalent human organism and even out-performs it on some measures. Zhiyong Fan and his team developed a hemispherical artificial retina containing light-sensitive nanowires made from perovskite to mimic …

  1. Roger Kynaston Bronze badge
    Happy

    We have the technology

    I wish they would remake the Six Million Dollar Man!

    1. Jan 0

      Re: We have the technology

      Maybe call it the "Quarter of a Billion Dollar Man" to account for inflation.

      More interestingly, what is the liquid metal in the "wires"? Mercury? Gallium? Surely not Rubidium! The design is interesting, but how are they proposing to interface it with the rest of the brain? I think I'd prefer an external camera with a supercomputer that whispers in my ear: E.g. "Just to the right of you there's a really cute guy, they look interested." or "The coffee cup is on the table two inches in front of your middle finger." I think I could adapt to that, without having dangerous metals in my skull.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We have the technology

        "I think I'd prefer an external camera with a supercomputer that whispers in my ear: E.g. "Just to the right of you there's a really cute guy, they look interested." or "The coffee cup is on the table two inches in front of your middle finger." I think I could adapt to that, without having dangerous metals in my skull."

        You might enjoy this Wired article from almost 2 decades ago.

        https://www.wired.com/2002/09/vision/

        "A HALF CENTURY OF ARTIFICIAL-SIGHT RESEARCH HAS SUCCEEDED. AND NOW THIS BLIND MAN CAN SEE."

      2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: We have the technology

        The links provided by El Reg say, "eutectic gallium–indium alloy." Sounds like galinstan.

      3. Suricou Raven Silver badge

        Re: We have the technology

        The brain interface part is the only essential new element. You can do the rest with a camera mounted on a headband and a wearable computer. It's just the brain interface is really hard to engineer.

        The only convenience nature has given us in that task is that the visual cortex is easily accessible to surgeons. Once a suitable device makes it out of the laboratory and into regular the use, the actual installation is practically a routine procedure already. Just remove a section of skull at the back, carefully pull aside a membrane, and there's your target ready for probing. It's not entirely safe, but it's as safe as neurosurgery gets.

  2. J27 Bronze badge

    Bionic ears exist now, so this isn't that far a stretch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We call them 'hearing aids'

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        No, we call them "cochlear implants"

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge
          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            They're talking about implants that stimulate the cochlea (auditory nerve). Hearing aids, for example, are useless if your ear canals are totally shut or if the problem is the nerve itself. Implants provide a potential solution even in those conditions.

  3. dbayly

    Who turned the lights out ?

    is this article claiming that the eye can detect less than 86 photons /second? Surely not ...

    1. DrBobK
      Headmaster

      Re: Who turned the lights out ?

      See the incredibly beautiful study of Hecht, Shlaer, and Pirenne (1942) Energy, quanta and vision. J. Gen. Physiol. 20 819-840. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2142545/ Dark adapted human rod cells require between 5 and 8 quanta on average to produce a neural signal. After the effects of absorption by parts of the eye between the outside world and the retina this corresponds to an ability of the humans tested to detect between 54 and 148 quanta (i.e. that's all you need to see a light under optimal conditions - the integration time is about 100ms, so all the quanta have to arrive within 100ms for optimal performance).

      Here is the relevant section of the paper's abstract:

      "With these three corrections, the range of 54 to 148 quanta at the cornea becomes as an upper limit 5 to 14 quanta actually absorbed by the retinal rods. 3. This small number of quanta, in comparison with the large number of rods (500) involved, precludes any significant two quantum absorptions per rod, and means that in order to produce a visual effect, one quantum must be absorbed by each of 5 to 14 rods in the retina. 4. Because this number of individual events is so small, it may be derived from an independent statistical study of the relation between the intensity of a light flash and the frequency with which it is seen. Such experiments give values of 5 to 8 for the number of critical events involved at the threshold of vision."

      Your truly,

      A Vision Scientist.

      1. dbayly

        Re: Who turned the lights out ?

        Thank you for an illuminating response. :-)

        1. DrBobK

          Re: Who turned the lights out ?

          Just to clarify my summary of the experiment, each rod only needs a single photon to initiate the signalling cascade, but we need between 5 and 8 rods to be activated before we have a conscious experience of a flash. The human visual system is pretty remarkable.

          1. jake Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Who turned the lights out ?

            Thank you for helping to shed some light on the subject.

            With references, no less. This round's on me.

  4. Efer Brick

    I want optical zoom, 1tb storage, infra red, night viz, 5g and to be able to see round corners

    1. jake Silver badge

      You forgot ...

      ... blockchain in the cloud.

    2. Def Silver badge
      Coat

      ...and to be able to see round corners

      All iPhone users can see round corners already. I think, perhaps, you want to be able to see around corners.

      (Mine's the one with Pendatry for Dummies in the pocket.)

      1. Neoc
        Coat

        I think you mean "Pedantry".

        1. Def Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Aw shit. :D

  5. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Wonderful development in tech

    I can see its got good potential.... But

    Does anyone else feel slightly nervous about the idea of having eyes that might need a firmware update?

    Just saying..

    1. IGotOut

      Re: Wonderful development in tech

      It's fine. It's going to fall under the IoT banner, so an update is going to be close to zero

    2. Neoc

      Re: Wonderful development in tech

      Surely it'd be "wetware"...

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