If I told you that the lives of those with sight is the exact same as the lives of those who are blind, I would be lying. The lives of not only those who are blind but those impaired, is much different and oftentimes much more difficult than the lives of those with full physical and mental abilities. But what if there was a product, an idea, a “light” of hope that could make the lives of the blind as close as ever to the lives of those with sight?
Today, there are 285 million people visually impaired globally, and 39 million of these people are blind. In a society focused on visual communication, being blind can have severe disadvantages. In fact, research shows blind people are at higher risk of unemployment, social isolation, and lower quality of life than sighted people. Visual impairment can limit people’s ability to perform everyday tasks and can also affect their ability to communicate with the surrounding world.
Although our world has come so far in various technological aspects, from sending rockets to Mars, and creating state-of-the-art technologies, we still have not been able to cure blindness, and our progress has been incredibly slow. However, is curing blindness and altering the way blind people live even attainable? Could this truly become a reality?
Well, the goal at AI Glasses is simply to improve the lives of the blind and make their lives as close as ever to the lives of those with sight. And although an ambitious goal, with the aid of the AI Glasses this goal can truly become a reality. The AI Glasses incorporate a camera system, placed inside a pair of glasses which can capture live video and with our three step process, our patients will be able to see spots of lights and for many, the first time in their lives. Here is a more in depth analysis of our three step process.
Using an innovative 3-step process, we will be able to create a product that will change the lives of all those who are visually impaired! The patient will put on a pair of camera attached glasses. These cameras will be capable of providing live video feed to a connected device.
This connected device is then able to convert whatever video feed it is receiving into electrical signals which can be sent to the brain. These electrical signals can be sent to the brain through the placement of electrodes on the visual cortex, which will be surgically inserted. Once the system is inserted, connected and ready to go, patients will be able to see spots of lights or more commonly referred to as phosphenes.
With the implementation of an AI system, our processors will send certain signals based on the video feed it captures. These signals will trigger the appearance of certain phosphenes depending on what it has been trained to do with specific inputs and outputs. With our product, patients will now be able to distinguish different things such as a door from a wall and even from person to person, providing them a chance to live a normal life once again!
What else is being done?
One extremely fascinating product that was created was the Argus II. The Argus II was designed to cure blindness in patients who suffered from a disease called retinitis pigmentosa, in which patients have damaged photoreceptor cells in the retina. So the Argus II uses the same system as proposed by AI Glasses however electrodes are placed on the retina rather than the visual cortex. Placing the electrodes on the visual cortex will allow our technology to cure blindness no matter which part of the eye was damaged. The Orion system however, does use a similar method as ours by placing electrodes on the visual cortex but does not include the use of Artificial Intelligence, which AI Glasses believes is a crucial aspect of our product.
Using Augmented Reality
Scientists have proposed a cortical modem that plugs into your DNA and your visual cortex to cure sight loss and show a heads-up display in front of your very eyes.
The short-term plan is for a tiny device about the size of two coins that would give you a heads-up display somewhere around the level of an LED alarm clock. The cortical modem is based from the field of optogenetics, which involves studying and controlling specific cells within living tissue through light. Light-responsive proteins can be added to the brains of living beings, allowing scientists to turn neurons on or off with never-before-seen precision.
Alvelda’s project is built on the concepts of optogenetics, which is the study and control of specific cells within living tissue through light. Proteins that are light-responsive are added into the brains of a person, making it possible for scientists to easily activate or deactivate neurons in order to study and perhaps eventually control neurological activity.
A Sino-U.S. joint research project has enhanced the vision of mice by using nanotechnology to make them see infrared light as well as visible light, which could lead to applications for humans to have infrared vision in the future. The scientists injected nanoparticles into mice’s eyes, giving them infrared vision for up to 10 weeks, as the nanoparticles can absorb infrared light and convert it into green colored visible light. Bao said the researchers believe they can fine tune the bio-integrated technology so that it suits human eyes, and the injection process has little side effects. The technology can not only generate super vision but also provide a therapeutic solution in human red color vision deficits. Currently, infrared technology relies on detectors and cameras with outside power sources to obtain infrared images, as people, animals and objects emit infrared light as they give off heat. The new nanotechnology has potential application in a number of fields including security and military operations, according to the scientists. However, the biggest barrier in this form of research is the lack of development, funding, and research being conducted in the field.
Barriers in our Product
Now, with every major breakthrough come minor setbacks and it’s important to decipher and recognize the existence of some potential issues. Firstly, the resolution of these pixels have only been tested for 10 by 10 pixels, to put that into perspective, the human eye has a resolution of 362 megapixels. One megapixel is equivalent to 1 million pixels. Another barrier is the fact that our human body does not take the insertion of unnatural objects very kindly. In a period of 1–3 years, scar tissue will start to grow over the electrodes and that can result in lost connectivity between the electrodes. Lastly, the cost. The cost of production and research in this technology would be through the roof and customers would likely have to make up for this price which would result in de-incentivization of the usage of our product.
With our product and idea, we have the potential to be able to change the lives of over 39 million people worldwide, and give millions of people the opportunity to live a normal life once again!