Prof. Zeev Zalevsky, head of the Electro-Optics study program at Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Engineering, has developed a bionic contact lens that has tremendous potential to enable the blind to see.
According to Zalevsky, the lens processes digital images and translates them into tactile sensations. These sensations can be felt on the person’s cornea, allowing him or her to form a picture of their physical surroundings.
“It’s like reading Braille, not with your fingertips but with your eyes,” said Zalevsky. He explains that the system uses a mounted camera or smartphone to capture images that are turned into a form of electronic Braille. Zalevsky said that with a short training the user can use the lens effectively.
Explaining that the device is worn just like a regular contact lens, Zalevsky said, “We can encode an image with many more points than the Braille systems, and use these to stimulate the surface of the cornea.” He added, “The more shapes you want to recognize, the longer the training should be. This is similar to how a visually impaired person learns Braille writing.”
Zalevsky and his research team is currently seeking funding to complete full-scale trials and move into mass production. He said that with the proper funding, the research and development period will be completed in approximately two years.
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