First advanced prototype revealed for the Australian bionic eye

By Loz Blain in Gizmag

Researchers at Bionic Vision Australia (BVA) have produced a prototype version of a bionic eye implant that could be ready to start restoring rudimentary vision to blind people as soon as 2013. The system consists of a pair of glasses with a camera built in, a processor that fits in your pocket, and an ocular implant that sits against the retina at the back of the eye and electronically stimulates the retinal neurons that send visual information to the brain. The resulting visual picture is blocky and low-res at this point, but the technology is bound to improve, and even in its current form it’s going to be a major life-changer for those with no vision at all. And the future potential – even for sighted people – is fascinating.

Thanks to an Australian government injection of almost $40 million in 2009, Bionic Vision Australia has been able to revise the timeline of its innovative bionic eye program from “around 2020” to as close as three years away. This week, researchers demonstrated a prototype of the device they hope will begin restoring sight to blind people as early as 2013.

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