In the early 1970s, The Six Million Dollar Man (based on Cyborg, a science fiction novel by Martin Caidin) first debuted on television. The show followed the life of astronaut Steve Austin who, having been severely injured in a crash, lost functionality in two limbs and one eye. The show’s opening credits said: “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology.” With that, viewers got the first glimpse of a bionic man. While a far-fetched idea at the time, the state-of-the-art technology featured in the television program has come to be a reality, including the “bionic” eye, a new and quickly advancing frontier in bionic medical devices.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
To put the technicalities of a bionic eye into perspective, consider seeing something made of pixels (the small boxes used to make images on a computer monitor). The more pixels used in an image, the better the image definition. Early versions of the bionic eye used only four electrodes (representing a 2” x 2” pixel image), while current implants feature 60 electrodes. Scientists and engineers are working towards implants with 1000 electrodes, which they hope will allow facial recognition. Further down the road, scientists plans to introduce electrodes that will allow recipients to see color as well.
Originally Published in Headline Discoveries