Friday, November 27, 2009

Technology from Star Trek: The VISOR

Everyone knows that Star Trek has contributed to popular technology in many ways. For instance, cell phones were based on the concept of the communicator. OV-101 was named Enterprise, not after the famous carrier then in service, but after the fictional starship commanded by Jim Kirk on the television show. Personal computing was a fantasy in 1967, but a reality by 1984 with the launch of the Macintosh - and a necessity by 2000.

Now we have a new example of Star Trek's fiction becoming reality: Geordi LaForge's VISOR. In Star Trek, the VISOR takes visual input on several levels and sends it right to the brain, bypassing Geordi's non-functioning optic nerve. This lets the character see, though not quite as people do. Visually, the VISOR is a clip-like thing that sits over the eyes.

Well, science has done it again. The Daily Mail reports that a 51 year old man named Peter Lane is now seeing for the first time in 30 years once he was fitted with a device that takes camera input, digitizes it with a small belt-mounted computer, and sends it to his eyes in a series of lines and dots. While it isn't as functional as Geordi's VISOR, it is a start, and for Peter Lane, it is surely all the difference in the world.

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