“ELVIS” is an implanted cortical stimulation chip intended to provide vision to those who are blind due to a wide range of causes, including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, optic nerve injury or disease, eye injury. It will be helpful even for people who don’t have eyes. The technology has three components:
- Brain implant –is to be installed into the brain. Stimulates visual cortex by low currents. As a result, a blind person experiences visual sensations and sees bright flashes – phosphenes.
- Band with cameras that catch images of environment. Wireless sensor transmits stimulation commands to the chip on the patient’s head.
- A microcomputer processes image from the camera by means of intellectual algorithms.
Three components of the system working together allow to see everything around - understand where objects are, recognize their silhouettes.
«ELVIS – is a technology that can connect video signal straight with the brain. We are creating the medical device that will restore vision to blind and deaf-blind people. Tens of thousands of people in Russia and millions of those who can’t see from all over the world are dreaming about it. We’ve developed the full integration of bionic technology and artificial intelligence in this project. I think we’ll be able to use our brain implant and AI platform for many different applications in the nearest future, like controlling prosthetic arms using your mind and other amazing things. This probably will make AI not so artificial anymore», - Denis Kuleshov, project lead, has said.
Now “ELVIS” is carrying out trials on animals to adjust optimal parameters for electrodes and the system for controlling the implant. Then the technology will be tested on monkeys. In 2023 the team of the project is planning to manufacture the first sample batches of ELVIS to perform human trials, no more than 10 people. Blind and deaf-blind volunteers will be able to obtain a new means of vision and become first users of a full-fledged bionic cortical implant in Russia. In 2027 the first surgeries will be available in Russia and in other countries.
«Few years ago, our Foundation has helped two deaf-blind people to get the bionic vision. Today we are going further. The technologies are developing, and with the cortical implant blind people will be able to see very soon», - Natalia Sokolova, Executive director of The Deaf-Blind Support Foundation «Con-nection», has said.
“ELVIS” could become the first project within establishment of a new technological platform with the use of micro and nanoelectronics and AI in neuroprosthetics.
- Deep electrostimulation of the brain is used in patients with Parkinson’s disease insusceptible of drug correction. The implant is installed into the brain and blocks anomalous signals coming from certain regions of the brain.
- Neurostimulation method is the most efficient means of suppressing chronic pain syndrome. Metallic body of neurostimulators is implanted under the skin with electrodes being injected into the brain.
- Recording electrodes in the brain allow to control bionic prosthetic arms with one’s mind. Implantation of microchips with electrodes into the somatosensory cortex allows to feel tactile sensations from the prosthesis.