In order to solve this problem, Sheila Nirenberg and Chethan Pandarinath of Cornell University developed a new optical prosthetic system that consists of two parts that mimic the functionality of an actual retina. An encoder takes visual information and transforms it into the form needed by the ganglion cells. This functions much like a compiler, converting human-readable source code into machine code needed by the computer. In a healthy retina, this transformation (â€œvisual phototransductionâ€) is performed by the photoreceptor cellsâ€”the rods and cones. The second component is the transducer, which takes the signal from the encoderâ€”now in the proper patternâ€”and stimulates the ganglion cells, in effect executing the code.
I can imagine one day where digital visual information is pumped straight into the transducer.