Bionic Eye Trial Approved

Pixium Vision, a French company, has received the approval to begin in-human trials of a miniature wireless sub-retinal implant. Named PRIMA, the device may help those with advanced dry age-related macular degeneration get improvements in their eyesight. The company is in talks to also conduct trials in the United States.

The PRIMA implant is a photovoltaic chip about 2mm square and only 30 microns thick. That’s tiny, but the device has 378 electrodes. The patient uses a device that looks like a conventional pair of glasses but contains an integrated camera that sends data wirelessly to a small pocket-sized image processing computer. This computer then commands the glasses to send data to the implant via invisible infrared light. The chip converts the light to electrical impulses and conducts them to the optic nerve. You can see a video about how the system works below.

According to the company, PRIMA has been used with rats and cats successfully. They plan to eventually produce chips with several thousand electrodes.

There are other similar systems out there including an FDA-approved device from Second Sight that uses a grid of electrodes and a tiny receiver. The amount of vision restored is minimal and the tiny receiver is prone to interference from cell phones and appliances. Other companies use light sensors similar to those in a camera or nanowire implants.

We’ve seen macular degeneration hacks before, but most of us aren’t brave enough to do actual implantation. While the PRIMA glasses aren’t very stylish, they beat DLP projectors.

27 thoughts on “Bionic Eye Trial Approved

  1. They plan to eventually produce chips with several thousand electrodes. But those that got the 378 electrode version will be unable to have the higher resolution version implanted?

  2. Amazing. I’m waiting until they can perform bio-equivalent improved health systems regeneration. I’m waiting for bio-equivalent grown teeth specifically… though this may be way more interesting for those that do not have optic nerve or related damage and sight can be restored. Can you imagine hacking this device to see in IR/UV or other ranges? Man, that can be something way different and less gear for night vision.

    1. EMP/HERF weapon resistance might be considerable a problem with implants like these…

      but +1 for “integrated” IR/UV capability. Hyperspectral imaging might be even more fun, if we find a way to pass on all the information to the brain.

      1. Wow, great call. TEMPEST hardened is going to be a challenge for sure. I think similar to the Open Water company, the technology if implemented main stream consumer grade will have moral, social and ethical issues that need an impact assessment and risk mitigation for worse case scenarios.

        Check out the “Events” site for the link above and I just watched the SxSW featured talk “Telepathy meets Medical Imaging” with Sunny Bates- Austin TX and that really got me thinking more as some at Tech have been more involved with sociologists to better understand integration of technology into the main stream consumer market as well as other markets.

        With the shielding and surge suppression from HERF/EMP; a surge suppressor, circuit breaker, MOV circuit micro-component that is SMD and I am not aware of at this time is a great idea. Maybe even flight adjustment or operation range can be considered also due to different radiation profiles. Metal Oxide Varistors (MOV’s) may be a future objective for some to work on if they do not exist on the market at the SMD smaller size range.

        That also got me thinking that hackers and cyber crimes teams can see where the vulnerabilities are prior to going to market or like the last stage of clinical trials… the market will find out and report back issues and concerns that are adverse to health, safety, welfare and well being.

  3. -What are you doing with this high power IR flash plugged into the video port of your laptop in the subway dude?
    -I’m spreading hope man. I’m spreading hope… Using the last 21th century fox movie of course.

    IR hacking is suddenly becoming more relevant than ever.
    Beware in retina intrusive advertisement!

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