You may not have to wait until the 24th century to see a working version of that sweet VISOR worn by the blind character Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
A team of Israeli scientists has developed a prototype device that can tap into the visual cortex of blind people and serve as a makeshift sonar system to let them “see” shapes and objects around them.
Dr. Amir Amedi in Jerusalem is working to use sound to activate the visual cortices of the blind. The idea is that the visual cortex breaks information into two parallel pathways. One processes form and identity, while the other coordinates with the body’s motor functions.
The concept is based on work done in the late 1980s by Dutch researcher Dr. Peter Meijer, who developed an algorithm to translate the position of objects into distinct tones.
Once they get used to the system, users should be able to learn to interpret the signals—Daredevil-style—and better interact with the world around them.
According to the Mail Online, preliminary MRIs show the device activates the same pathways in the blind as normal vision functions in those who can see.
For Amedi, he believes the MRI data proves the system can work.
“The brain is not a sensory machine, although it often looks like one; it is a task machine,” he said.
So we’re well on our way to creating Giordi’s Visual Instrument and Sensory Organ Replacement (VISOR). All we need now is warp drive. Oh, and a Federation.
Future, here we come!