Enhanced Retinal Prosthetics through Infrared Imaging

Period of Performance: 03/01/2003 - 02/28/2004

$237K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Advanced Medical Electronics Corporation
MAPLE GROVE, MN 55369
Principal Investigator

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Visual prosthetics using retinal microelectrodes are a promising treatment for severe vision loss due to retinal disease. However, benefits from this new technology are reduced by limited spatial resolution. Current prototypes have very low resolution (on the order of 4x4 pixels). The technology will mature, resulting in increased resolution of implant devices, but resolution will remain very low in comparison to desktop displays and other low vision aids. Current compensation techniques in reduced resolution systems apply magnification and panning of visible imagery. Proposed is the application of miniaturizable infrared sensor arrays as input devices. Infrared radiation is invariant to color, pigment, lighting or shading conditions. As a result, far less resolution is required to identify the contrast between objects and background when the objects in the scene have differing temperatures (for example, humans, cars, sidewalks, etc.). The emerging technology of infrared sensing microbolometer arrays make the proposed research technically feasible at this time. A prototype system will be designed, built, and tested in phase I. The feasibility goal is to establish the efficacy of applying infrared imagery to improve the performance of reduced-resolution vision systems. The phase II project will create prototype systems for use in research.