The Latest Advances in the Science of Electronics have come as God’s answer to the hitherto untreatable physical disabilities, like amputation or loss of limbs due to accident or disease,through the Invention of BIONIC, (Artificial Electronically Powered) Body parts, such as Eyes and Limbs ! No doubt, these are by no means equal to the original, natural parts of the body, but are nevertheless, very valuable because of their conferring about 50% or so function. Of the lost or damaged parts, like the eyes, limbs, etc. Research is being done to restore the total vision or limb function by regenerating and replacing the organ’s damaged tissues by Tissue culture of embryonic cells harvested from foetuses,in their place, and cochlear implants to restore hearing; but this will take time. besides, the success of this limited by shortage of embryonic tissue. Therefore, surgeons working for functional restoration and rehabilitation have come with excellent prostheses to chide the time for biological cure of handicaps, with gadgets aimed at restoring functional ability of damaged organs by novel aids ,viz,’Bionic(Electronically Powered)parts, like hands and eyes!
(A) So far, three men have undergone surgery for replacement of amputated Arms and hands with BIONIC (Electronic, Mind controlled) HANDS, ARMS , and other LIMBS at Vienna, Austria,and in U.S./UK, fitted by joining the artificial limb to the body by the chest muscles, arteries and nerves. These hands are equipped to carry out the simple and day to day functions required of them. It is learned that the cost of the Electronically operated upper limbs in Indian Rupees is ₹ 13.5 lacs.
(B) The Head of the Department in Computer Applications and Softwares, Sri Krishna Arts and Science College, Coimbatore, India, alongwith the Assistant Professor, and a Master’s Course student in Computer Application and Software, have Developed a ‘BIONIC(Artificial Electronically Powered) EYE, which is a Visual, more exactly, a Retinal Prosthesis with a Video Camera fitted to a frame of glasses and a light sensitive Silicon implant to serve as a light receptor and transmitter in place of the damaged Retina of the patient’s eye, viz. in cases of Retinitis Pigmentosa and Macular Degeneration,, connected to the Optic nerve. This enables blind people to regain at least 50% vision, to recognise faces as well as big words, objects, which helps them to live and move about more independently and confidentially, without falling on the streets.it costs $30000/- each.
Another invention is a Training system called ‘Brain Port’ enabling to transmit light impulses to the brain directly with the help of the tongue.
There is also a Sonar White walking Stick designed by U.S, which enables the blind to ‘see’, that is, ‘feel’ their way about by making them aware of the obstacles in their path by the use of Ultrasound.
Russian scientists have added a ‘ Primesense Sensor’ (which is like Microsoft ‘s ‘Kinect camera’) strapped to the chest of a blind person, with a small pocket computer and a earbud in only one ear, to make walking easier for the blind, Especially if used alongwith the SonarStick, though they claim that with the improved version of the Sensor, the blind can dispose of their stick as well !
The U.S. also are producing the ‘Bionic eye’, but the cost of it is exorbitant’, $150,000/- ! Australian scientists too are producing a version of this called ‘Argus II Bionic Eye’ which, with the specially made spectacles for fixing the camera to it from within, make it look almost like a normal commercial spectacle frame, and enables even COMPLETELY BLIND PEOPLE TO SEE FACES, BIG OBJECTS AND EVEN TO READ BIG LETTERS, SO AS TO BE ABLE TO NAVIGATE INDEPENDENTLY on streets, and boosts their selfconfidence and self esteem! However, this device cannot help those people blinded by a glaucoma or damage due to injury/disease of the optic nerve, or developmental abnormality of the Optic Nerve.
The Optical research scientists are also almost ready to release a new product called ‘SMART GLASSES’, manufactured in such a way as to replace the bionic retinal implant/prosthesis, which, though they cannot restore the eyesight to Completely Blind people, are of great help to those with partial visual impairment, whose eyes still have the capacity to perceive light and darkness but cannot focus on any object or written material, by enhancing the things and words on name plates. The advantage of this innovation is that it is much less costly than the Bionic Eye, and simpler to use.
Now, Some brilliant young boys of 12and 13 years too, around the World, like one Shubham Banerjee, staying in California, as well as Pavel Kurbatsky from Moscow, have brought out variations of the above aids for the blind, like Braille Printers using the Lego, a talking-walking stick, and smart glasses, by their own inventions !
A Similar bionic implant (BIONIC EAR) is also available in the U.S. to enable hearing to the Hearing Impaired, which also improves the faculty of Speech, in those people who are not really mute, but Speech Impaired because of their Hearing Deficit.
Another invention to help the Hearing and Speech Impaired, is of a ‘DIGITAL GLOVE’ devised by a Pune M.Tech. Student, Abhijit Kathwate, which is operated by electronic sensors fitted to the five fingers with a palmsized controller and a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screen, to enable the deaf- mute and blind-mute to communicate by making hand gestures that are converted into common signs and words, and also to receive simple auditory messages. The advantage of this gadget is that it is moderately priced at ₹5500/-, and is easy to use.
( Though the further information is somewhat out of context, it is interesting to learn that the Chinese and Japanese, as well as some Western countries, have come up with a Novel ‘Item’, viz. an ELECTRONIC MANNEKIN, or Roboot, which is designed to look and operate almost like a Real ‘Sex Doll’. Though at first sight, this idea may seem preposterous, it has the value of serving to help men who need to relieve their Biological Tension, in the absence of their wives, but at the same time, do not wish to cheat their wives or risk their reputation, by going to a ‘Call Girl’, or getting involved in an Extra Marital Relationship. It may also be useful to Psychiatrists and Sex Therapists to treat patients with the problem of Psychological and Partial IMPOTENCE,I.e. ‘Sexual Handicap,’ which is due to Inhibitions or diffidence, or faulty technique. Who knows, it may help in reducing the social problem of Pedophilia and Pedophilic Rape, which is supposed to be due to some Adult Men feeling Inadept and inhibited to perform with adult women, by helping them to gain selfconfidence. There is a plan to devise similar male models for Women too).
The Science of Bionics is now being extended to the manufacture of Vital Internal organs like the Heart. Let us hope for an early breakthrough in that direction. There is thus vast scope for research in this field. Truly, ‘Bionic’ Science is a Magic Wand for providing valuable Synthetic Aid to the Various Surgical cases of Handicapped people, just like the Sciences of Biochemistry and Genetics for Medical cases!