Specialist vision company and research lab Second Sight has developed a headset and implant that work in tandem to help those who are blind effectively “see” braille and letters with almost 90% accuracy.
They began by using a cochlear implant that’s usually used inside the ear, but instead of using it to measure sounds as vibrations, it’s been changed to measure light and enable the wearer to identify letters and braille.
io9 spoke with Thomas Lauritzen, a Senior Research Scientist working on the project:
“To make it happen, Lauritzen and his team implanted a 10×6 electrode array directly onto the patient’s retina, which was connected to a tiny video camera mounted on a pair of glasses. The system also taps into a wearable computer that processes the video and regulates the strength of the current sent to the electrodes in real-time.”
There’s still a lot of work to be done and not all users found that they could read the letters that were streamed to them with a great deal of accuracy, but it’s an innovative approach to allow those with degenerative eye diseases to use their eyes in a way they probably thought they couldn’t again.