One idea that was hunting me for more than 4 years is the idea of bringing back sight to blind people. It is very interesting how
technology started to find a way to talk to the brain. BCI (Brain Computer Interface) is an interface based on some sensors called Electrodes. These sensors are responsible of reading the leakage generated by the brain signals, send them to a processing unit where these signals are processed and classified so we can do different things using them.
That idea started to ring in my head the second I attended an undergraduate thesis for some friends of mine who were trying to develop some applications using BCI. They were assuming that the user is totally paralyzed; so what they did is that they used the optical nerve to capture the signals generated when the human blinks. When the human blinks a black image signal is sent to the brain, then when the human opens his eye again the image of the environment that we see is sent to the brain. When the signal changes from BLACK image to NORMAL image the electrodes detect that change and send the leakage of that signal to the processing unit.
Through some classification, they marked the signal that represents the blinking, and they used that signal as the mouse buttons. Their interface was very simple a pointer moves on all the icons and commands in the window and when the user double blink, it gets translated as double mouse clicks. When the user blinks once, then this is a right mouse click. The whole interface is treated the same… even in the virtual keyboard; so the user is now able of dealing with the computer with just his own eyes.
That led me to think… if we can read signals from the brain, why can’t we stimulate those signals and generate them. Why can we stimulate signals in the optical center of the brain, and make the human see. This might be science fiction, but there are many theories and prototypes made for such idea. However, I think the main challenge in this idea is to do it without doing any surgeries or attach any implants in the user’s head. It should be as simple as putting on a pair of digital glasses and attach a sensor to your head, run the system and walk like everyone else.