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VR Interfaces: The Argus 16 Implant - or - Argus 1

Overview

Overview of The Argus 16 Implant - or - Argus 1
The first Argus implant was known as the Argus 16, because it consisted of sixteen electrodes attached to the back of the retina in the eye.Created by Second Sight Incorporated as a means of restoring sight to the blind, the Argus device was actually a complex little arrangement of interconnected devices. Almost but not quite the same as the virtual sight devices, the Argus implant also used spectacles. It consisted of a tiny camera and transmitter mounted in the rims of the spectacles, an implanted receiver, receiving the output of that camera, and and an electrode-studded array secured to the retina with a microtack the width of a human hair. A wireless microprocessor and battery pack worn on the belt powered the entire arrangement.

The main difference between Argus and virtual sight both was and continues to be that Argus connects to the retina of the eye, whereas virtual sight connects to the optic nerve directly. As a result, Argus requires a natural eyeball to still be in place, and cannot work with those lacking such.

As might be clear by now, the camera was capable of capturing images in far more detail than the electrode array was capable of sending to the brain. The sixteen electrodes, arranged in a 4X4 pattern, could only give a very tiny visual area, and literally a display of four pixels by four pixels, of the outside world. Vague shadows and light impressions were all it could offer. However, when compared with no sight at all, such an ability is clearly an advantage. Still, this amount of data was so alien to the millions or impulses per second - the human eye is calculated as sending 8.75 megapixels worth of data per second - that patients had to learn how to see all over again, to interpret the visual patterns produced into meaningful images.

In 2007, clinical trials began on the Argus 1's replacement, the Argus 2.


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