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February 17, 2007

Bionic Eyes; Batman Bat-Ascender

Steve Austin:

A bionic eye that can restore sight to the blind should be available commercially within two years, scientists behind the revolutionary technology announced yesterday.

The artificial retina has been cleared by US regulators to begin trials on between 50 and 75 people suffering from two of the most common causes of blindness, opening the way for millions more to benefit from similar implants in the future.

If the research progresses well, a device could be on the market early in 2009 at a likely cost of about £15,000, said Mark Humayun, Professor of Ophthalmology at the Doheny Eye Institute, part of the University of Southern California.

...

“They can differentiate between a cup, a plate and a knife. They can see motion. They can avoid stumbling around into large objects. That is just with 16 electrodes, and we’re now going up to 60. The models suggest 1,000 will be enough for face recognition, and we hope to get there in five to seven years.”

...

It generally takes patients a month or two to get used to the Argus device, before their brains learn to interpret the images. While the operation to install it took seven hours originally, it now takes 90 minutes.

Bruce Wayne:

23-year-old inventor has come up with a tool to give mere mortals the powers of a superhero: the ability to zoom up a rope as fast as 10 feet per second and scale the side of a building.

The battery-powered, handheld gadget is envisioned as a tool for firefighters and soldiers, and helped earn Nate Ball of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology a Lemelson-MIT Student Prize, to be announced Wednesday.

While he has practical applications in mind, Ball says it isn't a stretch to compare the tool to the gadgets fictional heroes use to quickly climb to dizzying heights.

"It's neat to be able to create a real-life engineering solution that has the actual functionality described in the fantastic situations you see on Batman, and with James Bond," said Ball, an MIT graduate student who spends his spare time rock-climbing and pole-vaulting.

The invention grew out of an MIT-sponsored, Army-funded student design competition in 2004 to develop technology to help soldiers ascend rapidly.

Umm, one problem: The ropes it uses to ascend need to be preinstalled on the top of the building to be scaled, meaning, well, you can't use it in emergency conditions, unless you've got a buddy up there already hooking up your rope, but then, how did he get there?

So the kid suggests that buildings start including pre-anchored ropes for firefighter Spidermen to use, when they need them.

Ummm... the kid needs to start working on his Bat-Grapple.


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posted by Ace at 02:35 AM

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