We are an interdisciplinary group interested in using brain-computer interfaces as a tool to study the neural mechanisms of visual perception in people with vision loss and to develop advanced stimulation strategies for different bionic eye technologies, with the ultimate goal of restoring useful vision to people who are blind.
(Feb 23, 2021) Instead of focusing on one day restoring ‘natural’ vision, we may be better off thinking about how to create ‘practical’ and ‘useful’ artificial vision now. A Smart Prosthesis could provide cues to the visually impaired, much like a computer vision system talks to a self-driving car.
(Feb 23, 2021) In this poster to be presented at the Augmented Humans (AHs) International Conference 2021, we outline our strategy on using immersive virtual reality so that sighted subjects can act as ‘virtual patients’ in real-world tasks.
(Feb 18, 2021) We are excited to announce the lab’s first paper, to be presented at the Augmented Humans (AHs) International Conference 2021, where we explore different scene simplification strategies for bionic vision.
Today, over 10 million people worldwide are living with profound visual impairment, and retinal neuroprostheses (“bionic eye”, Fig. 1) are being developed to restore vision to these individuals. Analogous to cochlear implants, these devices electrically stimulate surviving retinal cells to evoke visual percepts (“phosphenes”). Existing devices generally provide an improved ability to localize high-contrast objects and perform basic orientation & mobility tasks.
However, the quality of current prosthetic vision is still rudimentary. A major outstanding challenge is translating electrode stimulation into a code that the brain can understand. Interactions between the device electronics and the retinal neurophysiology lead to distortions that can severely limit the quality of the generated visual experience.
Rather than aiming to one day restore natural vision (which may remain elusive until we fully understand the neural code of vision), we might be better off thinking about how to create practical and useful artificial vision now. We can already make things appear brighter the closer they get or use computer vision to highlight important objects in the scene. In the future, these visual augmentations could be combined with GPS to give directions, warn users of impending dangers in their immediate surroundings, or even extend the range of visible light with the use of an infrared sensor (think bionic night-time vision). Once the quality of the generated artificial vision reaches a certain threshold, there are a lot of exciting avenues to pursue.
Our group combines expertise across disciplines including computer science, computational neuroscience, and psychology. Joining us requires a specific mindset—realizing that we can’t all possibly know everything, but that everyone provides a specific piece to the puzzle (see below for our current openings).
Together we want to do science that matters.
We are looking for curious and talented individuals who share our passion for bionic vision. If you are interested in joining us, check out our Lab Manual to familiarize yourself with our lab policies.
The deadline to join us in Fall 2021 has now passed. The next deadline will happen in December 2021.
Please know that we get a lot of emails from prospective PhD students. If you decide to contact Michael before applying to the program, you can make your application stand out by demonstrating that you have spent some time on our website and thought hard about why bionic vision is a good fit for your skills and interest.
If you are a CS/ECE Master’s student looking for a project, please contact Michael to set up a time to meet.
We are looking for students interested in applying their methodological skills to research problems in bionic vision. All students should have a solid programming background and strengths in one of the following:
We are completely full. Please check back in September 2021.