The possibility of restoring vision to the blind seems to be on the verge of reality. According to the findings made at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience that were published in “Science” on December 3rd, 2020, a newly-developed implant could be used to stimulate the visual cortex with artificially induced shapes.
How the Implants Work
Back in the 1970s, the idea of achieving artificial vision by stimulating the brain via implants was first considered. With the use of modern technology and resources, the researchers at NIN, led by Pieter Roelfsema have made great headway in producing and testing new, durable, high-definition implants. The implant consists of 1024 electrodes that can deliver electrical stimuli to the brain, generating the precept of dots of light within the visual space. This way, artificial pixels can be generated to construct artificial images. The research of this technology so far has been conducted on monkeys. Using the implant, the researchers created interpretable images through electrical stimulation. The monkeys have been able to successfully recognize shapes, lines, moving dots, and letters using artificial vision.
The Potential for Restoring Functional Vision in the Blind
A postdoctoral researcher in Roelfsema’s team, Xing Chen, explains that their implant is designed to fully bypass the visual processing stages that would normally happen in the eye or the optic nerve by interfacing with the visual cortex in the brain directly. This means that the technology could be used in the future to restore low vision in the blind who have suffered from issues related to the eye, optic nerve, or retina, but whose visual cortex is still intact. Based on this research, a neuroprosthetic device could be developed to allow the blind to recognize objects, navigate safely, and provide them with a much higher quality of life. With the first steps of the research showing great promise, there is potential for such an astonishing device to be made in the future.
This Company Recycles Electronics and Gives People a Second Chance
We live in a modern world full of technology and electronics, but there’s no doubt about the fact that these industries work fast. Almost as soon as we’ve unlocked our new cell phones, a fresh new model is released, and our old one finds its way into the trash. What most people don’t realize, though, is that most electronic items can be recycled. Now, this new recycling scheme is giving ex-felons the chance to change the world – and their own lives – one electronic item at a time.
A huge amount of waste makes its way into landfills every single year, and one San Francisco company wants to put an end to that. In the past, Brightmark has been working hard to reduce the amount of plastic sitting on landfill for hundreds of years, and they have also developed a way to turn food and agricultural waste into renewable energy. However, it seems as though these aren’t the only projects they have been working on.
A New Mission
Although Brightmark wants to make the world a healthier and more ecologically-friendly place, they also want people to be given the opportunities to change the world themselves. Because of this, they have created a new project called RecycleForce. The aim of this program is to recycle old electronics, but they don’t hire anyone who walks in with their resume in hand. This program is dedicated to those who have come out of jail and are looking to change their future.
These ex-felons turn up every day and make a difference as they sort through these old electronics, and Brightmark has seen a serious improvement in their mental wellbeing and career prospects since the program began. In fact, only 23% of these ex-felons re-offend after this program, which is much better than the 60-75% average.
This just goes to show that the world can be bettered in so many ways.