We talk a lot about the wondrous benefits that solar energy can bring to the world, but a new research project from Stanford University bumps solar’s do-gooder powers to a whole new level: Solar power could help blind people see.
Right now, retinal implants can restore some degree of sight to blind people. But the implants need to be wired to an outside power source in order to keep charged. Plus, they’re big and unwieldy. New solar-powered implants could be much smaller and get power from light, eliminating the need for wires. These implants could also produce images with higher resolution than current implant technology can manage.
The system comprises the implant and a set of glasses. The glasses, connected to a camera, send low intensity infrared light to the implant, transmitting both information and power. The glasses pictured in the study aren’t the most stylish of glasses, but that’s a pretty fair trade-off for being able to see without Terminator-style wires through your head.