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News Items - Robotic Eye

Wednesday August 9, 2000:
Canadian Researchers to Commercialize a Robotic Eye
By Julie Remy

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian researchers unveiled a robotic eye on Wednesday that does everything a natural, healthy eye does, except offer the gift of sight.

The artificial eye is aimed at providing a cosmetic solution to patients who have lost an eye to disease or an accident, Max Meng, director of the University of Alberta's advanced robotics laboratory, told Reuters.

"A prosthetic eye can be cosmetically made as real as possible.  But as soon as you try to get eye contact, the person looking at you will immediately realize that you are wearing an eye implant.  It's embarrassing,'' Meng said.

"Patients always wish their eye implant can move, so we are trying to answer that,'' he added.

The artificial eye moves according to signals from the brain picked up via electrodes on each side of the head, with the robotic eye following each movement of the natural eye, Meng explained.

Meng expects the artificial eye to be on the market in a couple of years, but said some details still need to be refined.

"Currently, we are using a very tiny motor to drive the artificial eye, but that generates some heat and is sometimes a little bit noisy,'' he said.

The final product may be able to eliminate the need for external electrodes, he said, with brain signals picked up from inside the eye socket, a possibility that could be even more discreet.

The research was partially funded by Edmonton's Misericordia Hospital, one of the few hospitals in Canada performing research into advanced prosthetic technology such as artificial noses, ears and eyes.

The results of the testing will be presented during an international robotics conference in Japan in October, Meng said.
 
Related Article:
Making an artificial eye move
By Phoebe Dey, Express News, University of Alberta
   
   
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