Seeing Machine Sheds a Little Light

Star Trek's Geordi still has the advantage over this "seeing machine" designed by a legally-blind poet at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but for $4000, this represents the current state of the art. It's housed in a box that's rather small, but it's not small enough to fit inside a pair of Star Trek glasses yet—it's 12" x 6" x 6", and plugs into a PC which uses LEDs to project images into the eye. It allows people to see faces of friends, study various shapes and sizes, read a few simple words and learn the layouts and appearances of buildings in places they intend to visit. Sounds like it's better than nothing.

The technology doesn't work for people who are completely blind, because some living retinal cells are necessary to see the images, but it works for those who are legally blind, those who can't see the largest E on the eye chart. An invention like this is sure to be warmly welcomed by the 1.3 million Americans who fit into that category.

"Seeing machine" offers legally blind a view of world [Reuters]