Bionic Eyes 2.0: Retinal implants go high-def

In the spring, we told you about an extremely promising technology that restored some limited sight to the blind. Still in the experimental stage, the artificial eye, developed by the Doheny Eye Institute at the University of Southern California (USC), works by using a small camera attached to a pair of glasses, which sends signals to electrodes implanted in a patient's eyes. Six patients received the implant, letting them distinguish light from dark as well as make out the outlines of objects so they could tell, say, a knife from a cup.

Now cybersight is getting an upgrade. The new version of the system, called the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis, jacks up the number of pixels from 16 to 60. Researchers at USC wouldn't speculate about what patients with the new implant would be able to see, but with almost four times the resolution, we suspect the dinner-table distinctions might extend to telling a steak knife from a butter knife or a glass of water from a flute of champagne. If progress continues apace, we might soon be able to jump right to Geordi's ocular implants (shown in the pic), skipping over that silly visor. And let's put in an infrared mode — you know, just for fun.

The Register, via Übergizmo