Eye Robot – Can Robots See?

From The Economist: “Robots are getting smarter and more agile all the time. They disarm bombs, fly combat missions, put together complicated machines, even play football. Why, then, one might ask, are they nowhere to be seen, beyond war zones, factories and technology fairs? One reason is that they themselves cannot see very well. And people are understandably wary of purblind contraptions bumping into them willy-nilly in the street or at home.

“All that a camera-equipped computer “sees” is lots of picture elements, or pixels. The challenge has been to devise algorithms that can interpret such numbers as scenes composed of different objects in space. This comes naturally to people and, barring certain optical illusions, takes no time at all as well as precious little conscious effort. Yet emulating this feat in computers has proved tough. Such machines may not quite yet be ready to walk the streets alongside people, but the day they can is surely not far off…

Visit this article from the Economist to read more about why poor eyesight remains one of the main obstacles to letting robots loose among humans.

The Amazing Bionic Eye That Lets The Blind See With The Help Of A Microchip

The sub-retinal implant could revolutionise the treatment of blindness in the same way as cochlear implants have transformed the life of the deaf.

The device consists of a thin microchip, just 3mm by 3mm in size and packed with 1,500 light sensors designed to replace those in the retina lost due to disease, namely retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary disease that gradually destroys light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye leading to total blindness.  This battery-operated implant is the first not to require accessories such as a camera mounted on dark glasses.

This Mail Online article talks about the results, which have been described as ‘quite astonishing’ by eye surgeons, giving the ability to visually locate objects on a table, see a smile and even see an aeroplane in the sky.  The research is said to progress rapidly.