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An artificial retina recognized for its innovation

This is Science Today. An implanted microchip that stimulates neurons in the retina by relaying visual signals transmitted from a tiny video camera integrated on a pair of sunglasses, was named one of R&D magazine's most innovative ideas of the year. The artificial retina is based on a microchip design by Wentai Liu, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Liu has been working on an artificial retina to restore vision to the blind for 20 years.

Liu:     Originally, when we started this project we envisioned the entire implant would be inside the eye ball and through a camera and then we gradually realized that the camera technology moves so quickly and also, it dissipates heat inside the eye. So, we decided to separate and we created an external unit and internal unit.

Narrator:        The device is currently in second generation clinical trial.

Liu:     And we are designing third and fourth generation funded by the National Science Foundation and also, the Department of Energy.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.