Monash Vision Group prepares for proof-of-concept demonstration of the Gennaris bionic vision system in first patients
Many people who are blind have damaged optic nerves, which prevent signals being transmitted from the retina to the 'vision centre' of the brain. The Gennaris bionic vision system has been designed by to bypass this damage, making it possible to treat many conditions for which other technologies have limited benefit.
Gennaris is the brainchild of the Monash Vision Group (MVG) a collaboration between Monash University, Alfred Health, MiniFAB and Grey Innovation.
The system comprises a custom headgear with camera and wireless transmitter, a vision processor unit and software, and a series of 9 x 9 mm tiles for implanting into the brain. The scene captured by the video camera in the headgear will be sent to the vision processor – similar in size to a smartphone - where it will be processed to extract the most useful information. The processed data will be transmitted wirelessly to complex circuitry within each implanted tile; this will convert the data into a pattern of electrical pulses, which will stimulate the brain via the microelectrode array. This stimulation will create a visual pattern from combinations of up to 473 spots of light (phosphenes) which should provide enough information for the user to navigate indoor and outdoor environments, and recognise the presence of people and objects around them.
MVG has been supported through cornerstone donations from Marc & Eva Besen and The Alan and Elizabeth Finkel Foundation, plus funding from Monash Faculty of Engineering and IT Foundation.
In 2018, a large funding injection was announced for the commercialisation of this technology by the Medical Technology, Biotechnology, and Pharmaceutical (MTP) Industry Growth Centre. This funding comes from the Federal Government’s $35 million BioMedTech Horizons program, which supports the commercialisation of health innovations in Australia.
MVG is directed by Professor Arthur Lowery of the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering and managed by Julian Szlawski. For further information please contact: Julian.Szlawski@monash.edu.
The program was one of two Monash projects awarded federal funding of $1m in May 2019, with the potential of receiving significant additional support. Read more.