I love how science and technology borrows from fantasy sometimes for inspiration in moving forward.
This time it is this unique device from Star Trek that inspired an inventor to help the blind “see”. While certainly a work in progress, the possibilities of such a device is tremendous!
In the show “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, one crewmember has one glaringly obvious disability that would greatly hinder anyone today from living a semi-normal life: BLINDNESS.
The character’s name is Geordi Laforge, a fictional character who appeared in all seven seasons of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and its four feature films. Portrayed by LeVar Burton, he served as helmsman of the USS Enterprise-D in the first season, then occupied the role of the chief engineer for the rest of the series and in the films. La Forge has been blind since birth and uses technological devices that allow him to see – a VISOR in the series and the first film, replaced by ocular prosthetic implants in the last three films.
VISOR (stands for Visual Instrument and Sensory Organ Replacement) for those who didn’t watch the show, is a device used by the blind to artificially provide them with a sense of sight. A thin, curved device worn over the face like a pair of sunglasses, the VISOR scans the electromagnetic spectrum, creating visual input, and transmits it into the brain of the wearer via the optic nerves. The sensors are located on the convex side, that covers the eyes and attaches at small input jacks implanted in the temples. The device does not reproduce normal human vision, but does allow the character to “see” energy phenomena visible to the naked human eye while expanding the wearer’s full perceived spectrum to 1 Hz — 100 PHz. This also allowed the character to see human vital signs such as heart rate and temperature, giving him the ability to monitor moods and even detect lies in humans (but not aliens).
But it’s all just fantasy, right?
At least until now.
Meet one of the technology companies trying to change that: the eSight.
eSight, from what I can tell, is an innovative, wearable, electronic assistive technology designed specifically for people with low vision – and people who are being classified as “legally blind”. It’s a high-tech eyewear device that looks somewhat like a virtual gaming headset that enhances whatever the user is looking at to maximize the effectiveness of their remaining eyesight.
That’s basically a VISOR in a nutshell.
The current version according to their website, the “eSight 3”, has a camera that works with high-resolution displays and optical prisms in the headset to restore sight to those with low vision. The video image is presented to the user in a way that can overcome the cause of their vision loss.
This is why I love science! Rather than trying to go around annihilating everything that lives and breathes, some people are dedicated to improving the human condition.
The only downside from this “new” piece of tech is that it is at the moment, cost-prohibitive, so most candidates can’t afford it – and it won’t always work for everybody who is blind.
It’s not perfect, but the conceptual idea is good. And it’s a start in the right direction for more tech refinement down the road as there are also several companies getting into it. So basically; buyer beware, do your research, and choose wisely – ALWAYS test the tech out before you take the plunge on ANYTHING.
These are the kind of things that needs funding, seriously. But hey, what do I know? Seems there are “people” still willing to turn a “blind eye” to it all. Pun fully intended.
Author: Richard R. for RacccoonTV