If Star Trek: The Next Generation has taught us anything, it’s that being blind in the 24th century is no big deal, mostly because you can just wear an all-seeing visor a la Geordi La Forge. Why scientists in the future couldn’t come up with a less bulky solution is beyond me, but still, it’s more advanced than anything we have right now.
That might change with the Monash Vision Group’s bionic eye project. Currently, the research team’s prototype looks a DIY version of Geordi’s visor, but the ultimate plan is to build a pair of ordinary-looking glasses outfitted with two digital cameras: one outside to capture images of the surrounding environment and one inside to track the movement of the eyeballs.
The digital images would then be transmitted wirelessly from the glasses to a small implant in the wearer’s brain, which would stimulate the visual cortex to let the person “see” what the glasses are pointed at. As the video from Al Jazeera shows, the image right now mostly consists of a grid of white dots, but eventually scientists hope to be able to create more detailed renderings of objects.
The goal of the research team, located at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, is to be able to treat 85% percent of clinically blind people, including the ability to restore sight to partially blind people without messing up what vision they already have. According to the Al Jazeera report, testing with blind subjects is planned to start within the next two years.