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Surprising Science

New Neuro Device Enables the Blind to Read

A new electronic device which connects directly a blind patient’s retinas allows the individual to read input, in the form of braille, as actual words with a high rate of success. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Using an ocular neuroprosthetic device, which connects a grid of electrons directly to the human retina, researchers have enabled blind patients to accurately read four-letter words by streaming braille patterns directly onto the eye. “Similar in concept to successful cochlear implants, the visual implant uses a grid of 60 electrodes—attached to the retina—to stimulate patterns directly onto the nerve cells.” The study was authored by researchers at Second Sight, the company who developed the device, and has been published in Frontiers in Neuroprosthetics.

What’s the Big Idea?

Thomas Lauritzen, lead author of the paper, explained that his company’s Argus II device allowed patients to see patterns projected onto the retina and read individual letters in less than a second with 89 percent accuracy. The accuracy rate for short words was slightly lower at 80 percent. “While reading should improve with future iterations of the Argus II, the current study shows how the Argus II could be adapted to provide an alternative and potentially faster method of text reading with the addition of letter recognition software.”

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