The Marriage between Biology and Engineering Presents The Artificial Retina Introduction In researching a form of artificial intelligence, the artificial retina presented itself as an interesting topic. Understanding the function of the normal retina is mind-boggling in itself, but interpreting the concept of the artificial retina is baffling. I the following document I will discuss both the purpose of a normal retina and the concept of the artificial retina. This form of artificial intelligence is just a starting point for more extensive research and technological discoveries.
The "Normal" Retina The retina is a delicate membrane composed of neural tissue located in the back of the eye. It is this part of the eye that gathers visual information such as light detection, object recognition, motion direction, and colors and sends it to the brain. There are approximately 800,000 cells in the retina that acts as the eye's photo-detectors, called rods and cones.
In an individual with "normal" vision, ganglion cells interpret messages from these cells. The ganglion cells then send these messages to the brain via the optic nerve. However, when the rods and cones become inoperative, visual capability is lost. Currently, over 10 million people suffer from retinal disease leading to the loss of sight.
The Artificial Retina Component Chip The Artificial Retina Component Chip is a device designed to combat the loss of vision, often caused by retinal diseases. This device consists of two main components: a photo sensing, processing, and stimulus driving chip powered by solar cells and simple electrode array. The chip is placed in front of the damaged retina where it can receive visual information and stimulate the retina with the proper current specifications. The current pulses are then passed to the attached electrode array. The actual device is two millimeters square and approximately .02 millimeters thick. This degree of thickness is said to enable the passage of light and images through the chip to the photo sensors at the back of the chip. The silicon microchip can be implanted near the vision center of the retina and may receive light images through the pupil. When powered the photo sensor cells in the microchip convert the light and images into electric impulses and stimulate the nerve ganglia behind the retina.
Current Issues with the Artificial Retina Component Chip Currently the Artificial Retina Component Chip has an array of 5 by 5 pixels, which is just enough to identify individual letters. However, it is estimated that within five years, the chip may grow to a 20 by 20 array and eventually into a 250 by 250 array, which is enough to read a newspaper. Although the current chip does not restore clear vision, it does generate the ability to recognize movement direction and external forms.
The Marriage between Biology and Engineering Presents: The Artificial Retina