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Bionic Eye Lets A Blind Person "See" Braille

• Nidhi Subbaraman via TechnologyReview.com
 

The makers of the Argos II retinal prosthetic have devised a way to help blind people read Braille. Their first reported tests with a person wearing an Argos II indicate that this method could help blind people with the implant read signs and short sections of text.

Second Sight’s prosthetic are built for patients with degenerative eye diseases like retinitis pigmentosa. The Argus II eye prosthetic captures images through a camera positioned on the wearer’s face. It is connected to an electrode array implanted on the eye. Images seen by the camera are converted to electrical signals and transmitted to the electrode array, which stimulates nerves in sections of the retina.

This gives the wearer a real-time replay of the world in front of them. But though they see better with the prosthetic, the view they have is a fuzzy one, which makes text and street signs particularly hard to read.

Second Sight’s solution is to stimulate electrodes in the pattern of Braille letters instead of standard text. This technique would replace the video processing section of the Argos II with a kind of Braille visualizer, to convert alphabets into their corresponding Braille arrangement of dots. If a wearer is facing a signboard with text on it, it’s the Braille lettering they would see.

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