The team is now preparing for what they claim will be the world's first human clinical trials of a bionic eye — and are asking for additional funding to eventually manufacture it on a global scale.
It's essentially the guts of a smartphone combined with brain-implanted micro electrodes, as TechCrunch reports. The "Gennaris bionic vision system," a project that's more than ten years in the making, bypasses damaged optic nerves to allow signals to be transmitted from the retina to the vision center of the brain.
The system is made up of a custom-designed headgear, which includes a camera and a wireless transmitter. A processor unit takes care of data crunching, while a set of tiles implanted inside the brain deliver the signals.
"Our design creates a visual pattern from combinations of up to 172 spots of light (phosphenes) which provides information for the individual to navigate indoor and outdoor environments, and recognize the presence of people and objects around them," Arthur Lowery, professor at Monash University's Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, said in a statement.
The researchers are also hoping to adapt the system to help those with untreatable neurological conditions, such as limb paralysis, to regain movement.
"If successful, the MVG [Monash Vision Group] team will look to create a new commercial enterprise focused on providing vision to people with untreatable blindness and movement to the arms of people paralyzed by quadriplegia, transforming their health care," Lewis said.