MIND GAMES: ever played Tetris? Eye specialists at Glasgow Caledonian University are getting kids with ‘lazy eye’ to play Tetris for an hour a day to sort out their vision problems. Lazy eye, properly called Amblyopia, is where one eye focuses better than the other. the kids wear special goggles that show the falling blocks clearly to the lazy eye, but less clearly to the other. that forces the brain to be more active and can re-start some dormant cells. After around 10 days thevision problem is fixed. now do it for myopia please. BBC has more.
SIGHT IN MIND: In Australia the Monash Vision Group are working on a bionic eye to improve vision. a biologically inert chip is inserted into the brain, but can be tuned up by doctors without further surgery. the chip receives wireless signals from a special pair of glasses which detect which way your eyes are looking and then turn a digital camera in that direction. the glasses process the camera signal and send it to the brain as electrical signals via the implanted chip. the chip directly stimulates the visual cortex and the wearer’s brain eventually learns to interpret these signals as sight.Researchers hope to do their first patient tests by 2014. Spectacular. Details at Monash Vision Group.
HOLEY LIGHT: We think of optical telescopes as collecting huge amounts of light. all the light is focussed by refraction or reflection on a single point, usually involving carefully crafted, heavy and costly lenses or mirrors. a different approach by the US Air Force Academy instead uses a lightweight ultra-thin plastic disc called a photon sieve. the sieve is perforated by millions of microscopic holes. Each hole bends light at a different angle, creating a focal point. the sieve is cheap and easy to manufacture at large sizes, and it can be tightly folded and unfurled again. just try that with a standard mirror! the downsides are that it can only take black and white pictures and since it receives less light it doesn’t image dim objects. There’s always a case for the quick and dirty approach, so I’m sure someone will find these photon sieves useful. more at NewScientist.
SIGHT IN TOUCH: If you can’t see or hear then communication is pretty tricky. the Lorm alphabet though allows communication by patterns of touch on the hand. the Mobile Lorm Glove has been created in Germany to help wearers send and receive text messages, emails and chat using the Lorm alphabet. Sensors on the palm read touches and send them via Bluetooth to a phone. Small vibration motors on the back of the glove take signals from a phone and let the wearer feel the words. the makers hope to also develop the system to allow wearers to read ebooks and audio books. by translating between touch signals and email and other forms of messaging, it means deaf blind people can really open up their communication channels. Soon it may be true that on the Internet no-one knows you’re deaf blind. more information at Design Research Lab.
SOUND OF SILENCE: ever wished for just a few minutes of peace and quiet? it turns out we can’t really stand true quiet. the anechoic chamber at Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis is 99.99% sound absorbent. Metre thick fibreglass acoustic wedges, double walls of insulated steel and 30 cm thick concrete make it utterly silent. the chamber’s used for testing products and research into sounds and sound quality, but it’s not a human-friendly place. the silence removes cues we need for balance, so you have to sit down. Then you can hear your heart beating, your lungs, your stomach. Most people last only a few minutes before they start to hallucinate and have to get out. the half hour of quiet may be worth it though. The Daily Mail has more.
- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz
By Miraz Jordan