New inventions of 2009 include: a new computer interface called the sixth sense, and a retinal implant for the blind.
Photo credit: Lynn Barry for SixthSense
The SixthSense is a wearable gestural interface that lets natural hand gestures interact with digital information. In other words, it's the computer interface that you have watching in every science fiction film made in the last ten years. Imagine a watch appearing on your wrist when you tap on it, or a phone call being placed after tapping out a phone number on the palm of your hand. Still a prototype, the SixthSense's hardware components are coupled in a wearable device with a projector and a camera connected to the computer. The projector projects visual information enabling surfaces, walls and objects to be used as computer interfaces; while the camera tracks the user's hand gestures using computer-vision based techniques.
Image Courtesy Boston Retinal Implant Project
The Retinal Implant Research Group has developed a microelectronic retinal implant to restore vision to patients with age-related macular degeneration and blindness. A microchip will be implanted into the patient's eyeball. A pair of glasses equipped with a tiny camera will transmit information to that microchip that will pass along recognizable visual information to the human brain, enough information to allow a blind person to navigate the room or recognize objects. Dr. Joseph Rizzo and Professor John Wyatt co-founded the Boston Retinal Implant Project (BRIP). The collaboration was initiated between the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.