NICTA microchip accelerates Australian bionic eye project

Jun 28, 2011

NICTA has developed a new microchip which is accelerating progress towards an Australian bionic eye.

Professor Stan Skafidas, NICTA Research Group Leader, Optics and Nanoelectronics, explains: “This is one step towards the driver of our high-acuity retinal implant, which aims to restore a sense of vision for people with retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.”

Researchers have completed probe testing of the high-acuity chip, with encouraging results, and further testing is underway. The team will now work towards delivering a version of the chip with 1000 electrodes and wireless transfer of data and power. This microchip could then proceed to preclinical testing.

Professor Anthony Burkitt, Director of Bionic Vision Australia said: “This is an outstanding achievement, which will enable the team to progress with testing to inform the next iteration of the high-acuity device.”

The successful fabrication of this microchip means that researchers can now begin working on a design for the microchip with 1000 stimulation points, to be used in the high-acuity device. The aim of this research is to develop technology that will provide enough visual detail for patients to be able to recognise faces and read large print.

“Our design also shows that the manufacturability of our device is a very real possibility. The substantial progress we have made in this regard is due to our strong working relationship with IBM, which has manufactured our chip,” Professor Skafidas added.

"IBM welcomes the news that tests of this first microchip are progressing well," said Glenn Wightwick, Director, Research & Development, IBM Australia. "IBM has had a long and successful partnership with NICTA and we are proud to be involved in this truly iconic project. NICTA brings world-leading design capability and this is reflected in a number of innovations that are being included in the high acuity bionic eye. We are delighted to be able to support the fabrication of this device, enabling intelligence and wireless data transfer with smarter silicon.”

How it works

The high-acuity bionic eye will consist of a camera, attached to a pair of glasses, which captures images and sends them directly to a retinal implant, containing a microchip. This information is decoded by the microchip and informs the electrical stimulation of the retina. These signals are then passed along the optic nerve to the brain where they are interpreted as vision. This technology aims to restore some sense of vision to people experiencing blindness due to degenerative conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.

Explore further: Tricorder XPRIZE: 10 teams advance in global competition to develop consumer-focused diagnostic device

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Major advance for bionic eye

Apr 01, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- University of New South Wales researchers have unveiled the microchip which is expected to power Australiaэs first bionic eye.

Australia reveals prototype 'bionic' eye

Mar 30, 2010

Bionic Vision Australia (BVA) today unveils their wide-view neurostimulator concept - a bionic eye that will be implanted into Australia's first recipient of the technology.

Stimulating sight: New retinal implant developed

Sep 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Inspired by the success of cochlear implants that can restore hearing to some deaf people, researchers at MIT are working on a retinal implant that could one day help blind people regain a ...

Recommended for you

Augmented reality helps in industrial troubleshooting

Aug 28, 2014

At a "smart" factory, machines reveal a number of data about themselves. Sensors measuring temperature, rotating speed or vibrations provide valuable information on the state of a machine. On this basis, ...

User comments : 0