New Bionic Lens Could Give You Three Times 20/20 Vision

A bionic lens, developed by a Canadian optometrist, could give any seeing person vision that it three times better than 20/20. Dr. Garth Webb, an optometrist in British Columbia, has developed the Ocumetics Bionic Lens, a permanent implant that can give super-vision to anyone over the age of 25, “no matter how crummy your eyes are,” he says.

“This is vision enhancement that the world has never seen before,” Dr. Webb told CBC News.

The Ocumetics Bionic Lens is surgically implanted – in a procedure that takes around 8 minutes – and its effects are immediate. Due to the way eyes grow and form, the procedure is only suitable for those above 25 years-of-age. Because it essentially replaces the eye’s natural lens, it also prevents the formation of cataracts.

“If you can just barely see the clock at 10 feet, when you get the Bionic Lens you can see the clock at 30 feet away,” Dr. Webb explained.

His whole life, Dr. Webb has been driven to make glasses and contact lenses redundant, and puts that mission down to his childhood experience. He was given glasses in the second grade, a look which didn’t jive with that of his idols.

“My heroes were cowboys, and cowboys just did not wear glasses,” Dr. Webb said. “At age 45 I had to struggle with reading glasses, which like most people, I found was a great insult. To this day I curse my progressive glasses. I also wear contact lenses, which I also curse just about every day.”

Following animal and human trials, Dr. Webb hopes that the Ocumetics Bionic Lens will be available to Canadian patients within 2 years.

“Perfect eyesight should be a human right,” he said.

Artificial Skin with a Sense Of Touch Being Developed

The technology behind prosthetic limbs has dramatically evolved over time for the benefit of assisting individuals who have had the misfortune of losing a limb. The next step forward to that is a coined Bionic limb that gives the user something akin to natural human skin. This realization looks to be making significant progress after “funding from the U.S. Department of Defence has allowed several researchers to make progress toward  more humanlike prosthetic hands that offer users a sense of control and touch”.  

It’s a strange one that funding is being allocated from the department of defense with the aim of benefiting humanity instead of the standard artillery. Anyway, scientists from Stanford have outlined a new type of pressure sensor in the form of a flat yet flexible material that could in theory serve as a type of artificial skin layer, which would then fit onto prosthetics. This is very much in the vein of human skin that is fitted over the bone and muscle within a human body, this technique would then in theory allow the wearer to both manipulate and also feel objects, though it’s not the evolution form of natural touch, but rather an artificial replication of the sensation.

Lead researcher Zhenan Bao has outlined that “The sensors send pulses that the brain interprets in order to determine a certain sense of touch. “It’s directly mimicking the biological system”

The “skin” itself is constructed from plastic which is then printed with a waffle pattern to make it compressible. Embedded inside are “carbon nanotubes”, these are tiny rods of pure carbon that conduct electricity which in turn squeezes the material and bring the rods closer together, creating more rapid pulses as the pressure increases.

In essence, this is a fascinating step forward that could hopefully benefit and also assist a person’s life. The ability to feel is an essential part of the human condition, any loss of that is worrying when you think of the potential ramifications. But that is not the end, eventually the scientific community hopes to be able to “channel information from artificial sensors into the peripheral nerves that were once connected to the lost hand”.

Human exploration and understanding of science has achieved a great deal and this is another compelling chapter. Hopefully, this work will achieve more answers and enable further development.

Thank you technologyreview for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of gizmodo

How Much Would It Cost To Build a Bionic You?

Well this is an interesting start to an article, in a world where machines are fast evolving with the aim of becoming the new humans of choice, what would be the theoretical financial cost if you either quite fancied a bionic body double, or have decided to take a career deviation to a more Iron Man existence. It turns out it is technically possible in a theoretical but far less evolved way, although it is unlikely you will see any custom iHumans anytime soon; you would need access to both the most cutting edge of tech and also the required disposal income.

Brain

So, what do you need to become truly bionic? A brain, yes that would help, Google operates artificial neural networks (ANN) and uses them for services like Google Translate, or recommending videos on YouTube. These are prohibitively expensive, but the search giant does offer a low-cost version which stands at around £13,000. An average human brain is still vastly superior and surprisingly has a power consumption of around 20 watts, which is less than a light bulb. Especially those so-called energy-saving bulbs which when you turn on take a while to provide you with any kind of light.

Eyes

What else do we need then? Eyes? Yep their kind of important, Robots like the WALK‐MAN use infrared, radar, sonar and lasers to help them perceive the world. The price? That would be £98,000; there is a slight downside as robots struggle to identify objects, this is why many robotic vision systems use a combination of vision techniques, for example combining a high-speed stereoscopic camera with a slower laser scanner, which builds a 3D map of the world.

Skin

Skin would also be essential for that authentic human look, the icub, not an Apple spinoff, has created an “artificial skin” on a machine. The robots chest, arms, hands and legs are covered in pressure sensitive skin that allows the child‐sized robot to interact more delicately with objects and humans. The reasoning behind this is that electric ‘nanowires’ are being developed with the aim of eventually allowing robots to properly ‘feel’ the world around them. Oh and the price would be at least £164,000, it’s cheaper to build an actual human rather than a robot one at this rate.

Hands

Next up, hands, a research project at the John Hopkins University has built 10 prosthetic hands, at a cost of around £325,000 each. Or if you would prefer an alternative then there is a project from Open Bionics, which utilizes a 3D‐printed prosthetic hand. This works by detecting muscle movements with electrical signals. It can be custom-built and fitted in only two days, at a cost of £2000. It will be an interesting chapter in the world when you can print your own hands.

Joints

Joints are next and arrive courtesy of Festo’s prototype Bionic Handling Assistant which is modelled on an elephant’s trunk. But what if you would like the cream of the crop? Nasa have thought of this and have built a “humanoid Robot” which uses similar technology to that of Festo’s and have coined it the Robonaut 2. Its flexible joints have already helped it climb around the International Space Station. I would not open your wallets just yet as the price would be around $14 million, which is a lot.

Legs and Feet

Lastly, there is the question of legs and feet, how much would they cost? The WALK‐MAN has devised legs which are pliant rather than rigid, making balance easier and allows them to walk in a smooth-ish fashion. It’s still nowhere near as advanced as a human though and it does require a hefty power supply, prices would be around £4.3 million.

Right, if you have access to the best bionic tech, then it would cost quite a lot, to make one bionic would require a vast array of tech which would at this time be not as good as us. Advancements have been implemented, but nothing has touched the power and intricacy of for example the human brain, robots are good at being machines and humans are good at being us, well most of us.

TL;DR we’re a lot of money and that’s without adding Iron-Man like abilities.

Thank you sky for providing us with this information.

Science Fiction Reality With Mind Controlled Bionic Hand

Ian Burkhart became paralysed after a swimming accident, but may now benefit from modern medical science as he has become the first person to benefit from a mind controlled bionic hand. The bionic device is controller using a microchip that was inserted into his brain and the first tests left him able to open and close his fist, even going as far as picking up a spoon! This may not sound like much to you and me, but for someone who is paralysed, this must have been freaking awesome.

With millions of people in the world suffering from a multitude of mobility problems, this technology could open up a whole new world for them, even going as far as letting them live a normal life once again, or at the least become more independent at tasks most of us take for granted.

The Neurobridge technology was created by doctors at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The chip reads a patients thoughts and transmits a replacement signal which the patients body can no longer generate on its own. The big revelation here is that patients are using their own body, a big shift from previous methods that have required the use of robotic prosthetics.

“Today was great. To be able to open and close my hand and do those complex movements that I haven’t been able to do for four years was great. Physically, it was a foreign feeling. Emotionally it was definitely a sense of hope and excitement to know that it’s possible.” said Ian when speaking with CBS

Plugging in the chip to a computer is actually like jacking into the matrix, a cable running from the patients head to a computer which then decodes the required thoughts and translates them into signals that are then sent to electrodes on a sleeve, causing the muscles in the hand to respond and move in the way the patient wishes.

Thank you Telegraph for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Telegraph.

Bionic Hand Connected To Man’s Nerves Returns Sense Of Touch

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute in Lausanne and Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Italy have reported that a bionic hand has been successfully wired into the nerves of a man’s amputated arm, allow him to feel sensations of touch in real-time via the prosthetic!

“The sensory feedback was incredible, I could feel things that I hadn’t been able to feel in over nine years. When I held an object, I could feel if it was soft or hard, round or square.” said Dennis Aabo Sørensen, the Danish man who underwent this ground breaking procedure.

This isn’t the first time touch has been conveyed from a prosthetic, but it’s certainly the most advanced one so far, especially as far as the user is concerned as it gives much more feedback. Sørensen said that his standard prosthetic was not wired into his nerves and he had to literally watch it all the time when using it as he would likely crush whatever it was holding. However, his new arm gives him feedback like our hand does, so he can feel that pressure naturally, rather than have to gauge it by eye.

Unfortunately he had to give up his new bionic arm after just a month due to it just being a clinical study and they apparently need the arm back to try on other patients. It’s still in the early stages of testing in the real world, but for Sørensen, it’s likely been one incredible month.

Thank you Gigaom for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Gigaom.