At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, a breakthrough development in the field of neuroprosthetics was presented - the ELVIS implant, which allows you to "connect" cameras to the brain and transmit an image to it directly, without the help of the eyes. Thanks to ELVIS, a blind person will be able to see the world around him - to distinguish the silhouettes of objects and people, to understand where and what is. The technology is intended for those blind and deaf-blind people who have retinal damage, optic nerve pathology or other severe visual impairments. The website of the project writes about this.
The process is provided by three blocks of the system. First, an implant that is installed in the brain (in the visual cortex - the area responsible for vision) and stimulates it with small currents. Thanks to this, a person begins to experience visual sensations and sees flashes of light. Secondly, a hoop with two cameras: the user wears it on his head, and the cameras read the image in real time, performing the function of the eyes. Thirdly, a microcomputer - it analyzes the image from cameras, highlights the contours of important objects and transmits the processed frames directly to the implant in the brain. The microcomputer is attached to the belt. The ELVIS neuroimplant is intended to help blind and deaf-blind people for whom no methods of therapeutic and surgical treatment are available. These are patients with such complex diseases as terminal glaucoma (ranked first in the world as the cause of irreversible blindness), terminal retinitis pigmentosa, genetic retinal dystrophies, total retinal detachment, tumors of the optic nerve and optic pathways. In addition, the implant will allow people to see who, for whatever reason, are physically missing their eyes.
Specialists from the So-Unification Foundation for the Support of the Deaf-Blind and the Sensor-Tech Laboratory are working on the cortical implant system. In addition, the team is assisted by scientists - the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Center for Collective Design of RTU MIREA.
ELVIS components are currently being tested in rodents. Then the technology will be tested on monkeys. In 2023, a cortical implant will be installed in ten blind volunteers, and from 2027, operations should become widely available in Russia, and then in other countries.
In the future, the project team plans to develop implants for the treatment of other pathologies and diseases. For example, a neurochip could help patients with Parkinson's disease block abnormal signals that come from certain areas of the brain.
You can find out more about the project on the website. You can also leave your application for participation in clinical trials there.