Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a new silicon chip that could be "embedded directly into the eye and connected to the nerves that carry signals to the brain's visual cortex," reports New Scientist. The chip aims to help people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, which is the gradual death of one's retinal cells, those really useful bits of organic matter that convert light into nerve impulses for the brain to process. Previous attempts at solving this biological conundrum have often gone the route of using a video camera usually connected to a tiny computer to process the signal, which is then attached to the optic nerve. If Penn's research works, it would let this chip be directly implanted into the eye -- with a direct connection to the optic nerve -- removing the need for an external camera. Even better, this new version also mimics the way a healthy retina adjusts to light intensity, contrast, and even movement. The next step is to reducing the size and power consumption of the chip before clinical trials can get going.
[Via New Scientist]