Perhaps, like me, you will do anything for money. I mean, for art.
So you will be among the first to understand why Wafaa Bilal, a professor of photography at NYU, has accepted a proposition to have a camera implanted into the back of his head that takes shots of what is going on behind his back.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Bilal will shortly enjoy surgery to have the camera inserted comfortably so visitors to Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar can themselves enjoy a live stream of images of Bilal's behind, or, rather, of what's behind Bilal. You see, the museum has commissioned this implanted spontaneity for a project called "The 3rd I."
The camera will reportedly be of mere dime size, but the apparent intention is that it should remain in place for a year.
I have never thought too much about what is going on behind my back. I expect there are nasty people making strange international signs, as well as sofa cushions wriggling to make themselves comfortable beneath my bulk. So one wonders why the back of the head was chosen rather than the front.
Artistically speaking (and that is a separate language altogether from English), the museum reportedly declares that this work of art is "a comment on the inaccessibility of time, and the inability to capture memory and experience."… Read more
For those who have never suffered from a bout of vertigo, the condition might evoke thoughts of Alfred Hitchock and a dizzying fear of heights. Those people would be misguided.
Imagine instead that, for anywhere from 20 seconds to 2 minutes, you are both falling and spinning, and yet you are also lying perfectly still in bed. It is not only nauseating and terrifying, but the disconnect is also completely frustrating.
Millions of people around the world are thought to suffer from one of a number of balance disorders, some of which are still poorly understood (do the problems stem from the ear, brain, or some combination of the two?). However, a new device could help those who suffer from one such problem, called Meniere's disease, avoid symptoms the moment an attack begins.
The implantable device consists of a cochlear implant and a processor with new software and electrode arrays designed by University of Washington researchers who specialize in head and neck surgery, signal processing, brainstem physiology, and vestibular neural coding.
It has been designed specifically to treat Meniere's disease--which affects an estimated 615,000 people in the U.S., typically between ages 40 and 60 and which typically affects one ear--because the disease is well understood. (The attacks result from rupturing of the inner-ear membrane, causing a sensation of spinning in the direction of the failing ear.)
The most common way for those with Meniere's to fight the symptoms of a vertigo attack is to lie very still for hours or, in severe cases, to elect for surgery that essentially shuts off that ear altogether, permanently affecting hearing and balance.
"We have a variety of existing treatments for Meniere's disease, and any time there's a variety it's because none of them are optimal," says Dr. Jay Rubinstein at UW's Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, who himself has never experienced vertigo--"other than from drinking too much in college"--but who for years has seen first-hand how debilitating it can be. "In theory this is potentially an optimal therapy that could really change how we treat Meniere's."
The device, implanted last week in a 56-year-old patient who is the first of 10 to be involved in the first clinical trials, is essentially an override, Rubinstein explains. "It doesn't change what's happening in the ear, but it eliminates the symptoms while replacing the function of that ear until it recovers."… Read more
There's no gentle way to put it. Chronic kidney failure is ugly and often deadly, and more people in the States are suffering from it every year, with increasing rates of diabetes and hypertension contributing to the problem.
What's more, the treatment that keeps many waiting for kidney transplants alive--dialysis--involves several sessions per week, at several hours per session, during which blood pumps through an external circuit for filtration to replace just 13 percent of kidney function, leaving many patients exhausted both physically and financially.
A senior research fellow in the U.K. says he has become the first person in the world to be infected by a computer virus.
Technically, the chip Mark Gasson inserted into his hand is infected, which one could argue keeps the virus limited to the domain of the chip even though it lives inside the man.
But Gasson, of the University of Reading's School of Systems Engineering, suggests this argument is immaterial because he is demonstrating that increasingly sophisticated medical implants will become vulnerable to computer viruses. Which means that those implants that are vital to a human'… Read more
Silk is not only flexible, it is also transparent and strong, and the rate at which it dissolves can be manipulated. So researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana; Tufts in Boston; and the University of Pennsylvania decided to build silk-based brain implants, using electrode arrays with silk proteins and thin metal electrodes.
Since silk is biocompatible and water-soluble, it dissolved in the brains of the cats they studied, leaving the mesh-like electrodes, which are about 1/40 the thickness of a standard sheet of paper, literally hugging the brains' contours.
The cats were anesthetized, but their eyes still functioned, … Read more
Wilson is out today. He's supposedly covering the New York auto show for CNET TV, but we suspect that he's at home still trying to get the Cheeseburger Doritos flavor off his tongue from yesterday's episode. We aren't mad at him either, because Natali Del Conte steps into his shoes to sort out a few stories on today's episode, starting with a short explanation behind that "PC Load Letter" message you've probably seen on your office printer.
Immortalized in the classic scene from Office Space, Michael Bolton probably wouldn't have been so pissed if CNET's prestigious printer Editor Justin Yu was around to show him that "PC Load Letter" means you have to load letter-size paper into the Paper Cassette. It's that simple, now put the bat down.
The next story might not be so easy to explain. "Security experts" suspect that terrorists have plans to smuggle explosives onto planes using bombs in fake breast implants. Since you can apparently hide up to five ounces of pentaerythritol tetrabitrate (yes, from "Die Hard 3"), airline officials will likely start more "in-depth" examinations of women that have undergone breast augmentation surgery. No, this is not a ploy by Wilson G. Tang to make some money on the side, but we're still wondering if it's possible to feel the difference between silicone and pentaerythritol tetrabitrate..."Oh my!"
Some people just can't have a conversation online without punctuating their thoughts with a silly emoticon. In fact, as Natali tells us, there's even a new emoticon out now that conveys sarcasm! Theo Watson adds his own twist on the funny faces with a new Auto Smiley program that uses a Web cam to automatically insert a smileycon into whatever program you're using. You can download the app and source code here and enjoy your hands-free smiling!
Keep the e-mails and voice mails coming everyone! Call us up at 1-866-404-CNET or send a message to the404(at)cnetcom and let us know what's on your mind. We're starting to read listener e-mails on the air now, so make them good! As always, sticker pictures are appreciated as well, and don't forget about Steve Guttenberg's ongoing "Audiophillie" awards--we've already received submissions but you still have plenty of time to send yours in before the April 12 deadline, so get to work!EPISODE 549 Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS Video… Read more
Just a few months after receiving $42 million from the Australian government, Bionic Vision Australia (BVA) unveils its prototype bionic eye, which researchers hope will enable users to perceive points of light that the brain can reconstruct into images.
Announced this week at the University of Melbourne, the wide-view neurostimulator concept was developed by researchers at BVA and the University of New South Wales for patients with vision loss due to retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration.
The set-up includes a video camera mounted to glasses to capture images, a wireless processor to convert and send those images to the implant, … Read more
German company Retinal Implant on Wednesday unveiled preliminary, yet quite promising, results from a four-year study of 11 patients who underwent retinal-implant surgery after losing their sight due to retinitis pigmentosa.
The company's implants were not the first artificial retina surgically inserted into human patients, and other studies have shown that implants can help a blind person see light and the outlines of objects, the company acknowledges.
But Retinal Implant's clinical trial, it said, gave all 11 patients the ability to see well enough to read or recognize foreign objects. One patient was so thrilled with the results, … Read more
Electronic retinal implants that can help certain visually impaired people see better are getting closer to reality with a new MIT prototype (PDF).
Engineered eyes a la Blade Runner remain a long way off. But by replacing the function of retinal cells, the implants could help provide a degree of basic vision to those afflicted with retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration, major causes of blindness.
Users would wear special glasses fitted with a small camera that relays image data to a titanium-encased chip mounted on the outside surface of the eyeball. The chip would then fire an electrode array under the retina to stimulate the optic nerve. The glasses would also wirelessly transmit power to coils surrounding the eyeball.
MIT has been working on retinal implants for 20 years as part of the Boston Retinal Implant Project. About 10 years ago, researchers tested the electrodes on six blind patients, who reported seeing cloud-like images when stimulated.
MIT scientists led by John Wyatt, an electrical engineering professor, want to test their new prototype on patients within three years.
The implants have been successfully placed in pigs for as long as 10 months without damage to the electronics, according to MIT.
About 20 teams worldwide are working to realize the dream of eye implants that could work as well as cochlear implants for the hearing-impaired. But the delicate structures of the eye, as well as engineering challenges, have made for slow progress.
"To create a bionic eye is equivalent to trying to create a television as compared with a radio," Nigel Lovell, a professor at the University of New South Wales collaborating with Australian groups to create a bionic eye, says in this video. "It's orders of magnitude more complex."
One issue researchers must tackle is where to place the electrodes. The Australian group would place them on top of the retina, while MIT's approach is to place them beneath the retina. MIT says that reduces the risk of retinal tearing and requires less invasive surgery.
What might early bionic vision look like? Very low-res.… Read more