This flat microscope has the potential to cure lost vision
Researchers at Rice University are developing a flat microscope designed to eliminate blindness and deafness called FlatScope. The microscope will sit on the brain's surface to observe and trigger modified neurons that produce light when activated. This is part of a initiative by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to come up with a high-resolution neural interface. It aims to combat loss of hearing or sight by channeling digital information to parts of the brain that is capable of processing it. At present, the Rice University team is currently focusing on the vision portion of the project.
Rice's team is collaborating with other institutions such as the John B. Pierce Laboratory that are examining devices that contain thousands of electrodes to address singular neurons. They are using an all-optical method in which a million neurons could be visualized by the microscope. Engineer Jacob Robinson mentioned that the inspiration behind the microscope stems from semiconductor manufacturing. He says that extremely dense processors have billions of elements for a smartphone can be created, so these improvements could also be applied to neural interfaces.
Currently, the FlatScope is only in prototype form, but its development does actually look very promising. If it does make it to mass production, it could change alot of lives for blind and deaf people.