Engineering Development of the Monash Vision Group Bionic Eye


Jacobs Hall, Room 2512, Jacobs School of Engineering, 9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla, San Diego, California 92093

Sponsored By:
Professor Vikash Gilja

Dr. Arthur J. Lowrey
Monash Vision Group
Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering
Monash University, Australia
Dr. Arthur J. Lowrey


Monash Vision Group is developing a vision prosthesis based on implanting stimulating tiles into the visual cortex, area V1. Each tile has 43 stimulating electrodes that are designed to stimulate Layer 4 of V1 using bi-phasic current pulses. The tiles wirelessly receive coded messages from an external transmitter, which itself receives data from a vision processor. The vision processor extracts important scenic features from a small camera mounted in the headgear, using several algorithms designed for common everyday tasks, such as navigation and social/business interactions.  A complete end-to-end system has been developed and is in the pre-clinical phase of testing.

This talk will first cover the engineering development of the project, which includes the design, development and testing of: insulated electrodes with ablated annulus stimulation regions, a 500,000-transistor ASIC chip, a hermetic package, wireless link (transmitter and receiver), processor, and software algorithms.  Secondly, the complex trade-offs in designing a complete system will be discussed, including the basic physical/physiological principles that govern the ultimate performance of cortical interfaces.  Finally, futuristic versions of cortical interfaces that propose substantially greater numbers of stimulation points will be explored. Suggestions about the areas of research that could underpin such developments will be made.

Speaker Bio:
Arthur Lowrey is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering at Monash University, Australia, an IEEE and ATSE Fellow and an Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellow and Science Leader of the CUDOS Centre of Excellence. He received his BSc in Applied Physics and Electronics with honors from Durham University UK. He worked at Racal Research and Marconi Radar before receiving his PhD from the University of Nottingham, UK where he developed computationally efficient models of semiconductor lasers. In 1990, he moved to Melbourne University and worked on a commercial product for simulating complex photonic systems. In 1996 with Phil Gurney, hea founded Virtual Photonics, which became the leading supplier of design tools for optical communications systems. In 2004, he joined Monash University, working on optical communications systems. Since 2010, he has led Monash Vision Group from its inception to preclinical trials of a cortical bionic eye, which was funded as part of an ARC Special Research Initiative (SRI) in Bionic Vision technologies. This technology has now reached the stage of manufacturing and testing devices for First in Human trials. Currently, he is a Chief Investigator at the Centre for Integrative Brain Function (CIBF) with the aim of incorporating his systems engineering experience to brain-machine interfaces and numerical modelling.

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