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Engineers Create 3D Printed Bionic Robo-Eye

While we're a long way off from creatures like the Borg in Star Trek The Next Generation—a lifeform that combined the robotic with the organic—we are getting ever closer to humans being able to readily and easily replace failing limbs and body parts with synthetic ones.

The University of Minnesota is working on a 3D printed robotic eye. How this technology works is through the use of photodetectors, which allows the person wearing the synthetic eye to see light. While this tech is very cutting-edge, it is still at a very primitive stage requiring the use of hard materials to produce and is also highly complicated to do despite only taking about an hour to actually produce from start to finish.

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Obviously, researchers are looking at utilizing this technology to combat issues such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other such medical problems. Speaking of AMD, in 2015 an 80-year-old man named Ray Flynn was the first person in the world to receive a retinal implant to treat the condition. The result gave him a bonafide bionic eye.

Researchers had this to say about the process of creating these robo-eyes: "Here we demonstrate a fully 3D-printed hemispherical photodetector array that can sensitively detect images with a wide field-of-view,” Ruitao Su, a research assistant at the University of Minnesota who worked on the project, told Digital Trends. “The high efficiency of the photodetectors and the ability to readily customize the size and layout of the design render this approach … promising for the creation of bionic eyes."

Despite this technology being very primitive at this point and time and being a far cry from being able to replace the real thing, this is a great medical advancement that could be utilized to treat a plethora of conditions and will vastly improve the quality of life for those who have problems with their vision. Though it will be a very long time before this type of procedure becomes commonplace, it most certainly will become more used practice within our lifetimes.

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