The Argus, named after the all-seeing Greek god with 100 eyes, is a wearable computer that helps blind people see borders and boundaries at very low resolution. We first reported on the device some eight years ago, when it was still in testing. Now, at long last, the Food and Drug Administration has approved its use in the U.S. for people with Lloyd’s condition, and the device will begin selling shortly at select medical centers, including the University of California, San Francisco.
The Argus is not a true “eyes for the blind” device — patients can’t see objects in the same way people with normal eyesight can. Instead, they see black-and-white edges and contrast points, and the brain can be trained to use this artificial data as a visual guide. It provides enough visual information for the patient to gain some independence, allowing them to cross a street safely, or navigate an unfamiliar room.
“You have to learn to see again, but people who have this implant were people that used to see,” said Lloyd, one of the first patients to get the Argus. “As you go through life, you still have pictures in your brain of everything you’ve seen before. So, you’re creating yourself an image that matches what’s in your memory. It’s a concept that a lot of people don’t get when they think about this device.”