Image from the paper with items a-d. a) Schematic of the EC navigation system integrated with a smart contact lens consisting of GPS receiver module, Arduino UNO as a processor, and PB display. b) Photograph of contact lens placed on the 3D printed replica eyeball. c) Camera setup of the navigation system on the dashboard of a car. d) Driving schemes updating the direction signal: (1–4) images show the four cases of operational principles used in the navigation system. Based on 0.2 V applied to the common pin, 0 V (off-state) and 0.7 V (on-state) are applied alternately in 5 WEs, and operating voltages with relative voltages of −0.2 V and 0.5 V are obtained (From the figure reads left to right: the name of 6 pins used in the system, their on–off status, the applied voltage, and relative voltage). Scale bar is 2 mm.

Smart Contact Lenses Tell You Where To Go

Augmented Reality (AR) promises to relieve us from from the boredom of mundane reality and can also help you navigate unfamiliar environments. Current AR tech leaves something to be desired, but researchers at the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute have brought AR contact lenses closer to actual reality.

The researchers micro-printed FeFe(CN)6 ink onto the contact substrate and thermally reduced it at 120˚C for nine seconds to form Prussian Blue, an electrochromic pigment. By confining the material with the meniscus of the ink, resolution was better than previous techniques to display data on contact lenses. While the ability to reversibly change from clear to blue faded after 200 cycles, the researchers were targeting a disposable type of smart contact lens, so degradation of the display wasn’t considered a deal breaker.

Since voltages applied were constant, it seems this isn’t a true bi-stable display like e-ink where power is only required to change states. The on condition of a section required 0.5 V while off was -0.2 V. The researchers printed a contact with straight, left, and right arrows as well as STOP and GO commands. Connected to a GPS-equipped Arduino Uno, they used it to navigate between ten different checkpoints as a demonstration. Only a 3D printed eyeball was brave enough (or had IRB approval) to wear the contact lens, so watching the state change through a macro lens attached to a smartphone camera had to do.

With more AR devices on the way, maybe it’s time to start embedding household objects with invisible QR codes or cleaning your workshop to get ready for your AR workbench.

A scan (x-ray?) of a human skull. Electrodes trace around the skull and are attached to the brain. These implants are for reducing Parkinson's tremors.

What Happens When Implants Become Abandonware?

You’ve probably had a company not support one of your devices as long as you’d like, whether it was a smart speaker or a phone, but what happens if you have a medical implant that is no longer supported? [Liam Drew] did a deep dive on what the failure of several neurotechnology startups means for the patients using their devices.

Recent advances in electronics and neurology have led to new treatments for neurological problems with implantable devices like the Autonomic Technologies (ATI) implant for managing cluster headaches. Now that the company has gone out of business, users are left on their own trying to hack the device to increase its lifespan or turning back to pharmaceuticals that don’t do the job as well as tapping directly into the nervous system. Since removing defunct implants is expensive (up to $40k!) and includes the usual list of risks for surgery, many patients have opted to keep their nonfunctional implants. Continue reading “What Happens When Implants Become Abandonware?”

Bionic Eyes Go Dark

If you were blind, having an artificial retinal implant would mean the difference between seeing a few hundred pixels in greyscale and seeing all black, all the time. Imagine that you emerged from this total darkness, enjoyed a few years of mobility and your newfound sense, and then everything goes dark again because the company making the devices abandoned them for financial reasons.

This is a harrowing tale of close-source technology, and how a medical device that relies on proprietary hard- and software essentially holds its users hostage to the financial well-being of the company that produces it. When that company is a brash startup, with plans of making money by eventually pivoting away from retinal implants to direct cortical stimulation — a technology that’s in it’s infancy at best right now — that’s a risky bet to take. But these were people with no other alternative, and the technology is, or was, amazing.

One blind man with an implant may or may not have brain cancer, but claims that he can’t receive an MRI because Second Sight won’t release details about his implant. Those bugs in your eyes? When the firm laid off its rehab therapists, patients were told they weren’t going to get any more software updates.

If we were CEO of SecondSight, we know what we would do with our closed-source software and hardware right now. The company is facing bankruptcy, has lost significant credibility in the medical devices industry, and is looking to pivot away from the Argus system anyway. They have little to lose, and a tremendous amount of goodwill to gain, by enabling people to fix their own eyes.

Thanks to [Adrian], [Ben], [MLewis], and a few other tipsters for getting this one in!

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.

Continue reading “Bionic Eye Trial Approved”