We propose to develop and evaluate the utility of a thermal imaging system as an input modality to a retinal prosthetic. Retinal prostheses restore partial vision to people blinded by outer retinal degenerative diseases such as Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) or Macular Degeneration. The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System is intended to provide electrical stimulation of the retina to elicit visual perception in blind individuals wih severe to profound retinitis pigmentosa. The implanted epiretinal array provides a 10 x 6 grid of electrodes. Electrical pulses at these 60 pixel sites stimulate the retina's remaining cells and result in the perception of patterns of light in the brain. The current spatial resolution is only 0 total pixels. Ordinary light and color information is difficult for wearers to effectively process n many important tasks at this low resolution. Current compensation techniques in reduced resolution systems apply enhancement, magnification, and panning of visible light imagery, and these techniques have utility to retinal implants. However, other information sources such as thermal imaging more naturally align to the limited resolution of retinal arrays and may improve the utility of the system in important tasks such as people finding and mobility. The proposed project seeks to provide and experiment with thermal imagery as an input modality to retinal implants. A prototype system will be specified, designed, built, and evaluated in Argus II patients.
The proposed project relates to the utilization of thermal imaging as an input modality to a retinal prosthetic. Retinal prostheses aim to help people who have lost their vision due to degenerative eye conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration to perceive shapes and movement, to become more mobile, or to perform other day-to-day activities.