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Wireless restoration of sight to the blind (rats)

Stanford researchers developed a retinal prosthesis that wirelessly transmits images from a video camera in a pair of glasses directly to a chip implanted inside the retina tissue. The innovations of lead scientist Daniel Palanker and his colleagues is that their system does away with any cable between the implant and the video eyeglasses, and buries the chip in the sub-retinal layers of the eye instead of on its surface to eliminate a kind of interference. They published their latest breakthroughs in the science journal Nature Communications. From Medical Daily:

In this study, Palanker's team from the Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory placed these second-generation implants into the retinas of rats with or without macular degeneration. The researchers found that the new bionic retinas could transmit images into the minds of rats, which was observed by measuring brain activity in the visual centers of the rodents' brains.
"Solar-Powered Bionic Eye Developed By Stanford Scientist" (Medical Daily)

Restoration of Sight to the Blind: Optoelectronic Retinal Prosthesis (Daniel Palanker)

Gweek 097: Ramez Naam and Jason Snell



In this episode of Gweek, I talked to Ramez Naam and Jason Snell.

Ramez Naam is a computer scientist and the H.G. Wells Award-winning author of three books, including the sci-fi thriller Nexus.


Jason Snell is editorial director at IDG, the publishers of magazines and web sites about technology such as Macworld, PCWorld, and TechHive. He was the editor of Macworld for eight years. He's also the host of The Incomparable, an award-winning podcast about geeky cultural topics including movies, TV, books, and comics.


Here's what we talked about:

Real-life cyborg tech Ramez: "In the last couple years we’ve seen the approval of the first bionic eye, trials on implants that let paralyzed people move robot arms via their thoughts, and brain implants that make rats and monkeys smarter. What’s going on here? Are we headed towards The Matrix?"


Star Trek Into Darkness Jason: "A lot of complaints I see about this movie (which I really liked) seem to involve fans who are offended by divergences from continuity, or because the movie dares to tread over (and rewrite or subvert) old ground." Ramez: "How much do we expect our sci-fi to be scientifically accurate? Or even self-consistent? I enjoyed Avengers despite it being very silly and at times illogical. But much more minor flaws in logic ruined Prometheus for me."

Feedly Mark: "A replacement for Google reader, which is going away."


Morning Glories Jason: "Just started reading this comic, which just began its second "season." As a big fan of Lost, I'm intrigued by this time-bending combination of Lost and Buffy or Runaways."


Mark: "I'm buying a $100 Samsung Galaxy Pocket and a local SIM card when traveling to Japan instead of buying AT&T's expensive international data plan."


And a whole lot more!

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Lab rats with brain implants sense invisible infrared light

Duke University researchers implanted lab rats with a device enabling them to perceive invisible infrared light. Miguel Nicolelis and his colleagues jacked a head-mounted infrared sensor into the rat's brain. It's wired into a region of the brain that processes touch, providing the rodents with a "sixth sense" for infrared. They published their research in the science journal Nature Communications. The possibilities aren't limited to infrared spectrum either. "We could create devices sensitive to any physical energy," Nicolelis says. "It could be magnetic fields, radio waves, or ultrasound. We chose infrared initially because it didn't interfere with our electrophysiological recordings." The technology could someday lead to improved neuroprosthetics to help blind people see.

"Neuroprosthesis Gives Rats the Ability to 'Touch' Infrared Light" (Nicolelis Lab)

"Lab rats 'acquire sixth sense'" (BBC News)