by February 11, 2001 0 comments

Hope comes to people with low vision in the form of a device called Nomad,
which uses lasers to ‘paint’ rows of pixels directly onto the retina,
creating a high resolution, full-motion picture.

Low vision is an eye condition caused by macular (macula lutea is a small
yellowish area close to the retina and constitutes the area of maximum visual
acuity) or muscular degeneration, and is difficult to correct with conventional
methods like lenses or laser surgery. People with low vision are able to see,
but find it difficult to read printed material, watch television, etc.

Nomad, developed by a partnership between Microvision and Telesensory, is
based on Microvision’s Retinal Scanning Display (RSD) technology. It’s a
wearable device consisting of two pieces–a display system that you wear on the
head and a control module that you can clip on your belt. Nomad has four basic
components: drive electronics in the control module, light sources, scanners,
and optics.

The control module receives signals from an image source–a computer
(desktop, laptop, or wearable), video camera, television, etc–and processes
them. The processed signals contain information that controls the intensity and
mix of colors and the coordinates to position the individual pixels that make up
the image. The head-worn display directs a pinpoint of low power light to the
eye, which the RSD uses to create and convey one pixel at a time through the
pupil to the retina. If the images are in color, three light sources–red,
green, and blue–are modulated and merged to produce a pixel of the required
color. A horizontal scanner then sweeps the light beam into a row of pixels, and
a vertical scanner moves it up to the next line, where another row of pixels is
painted. Refractive and reflective optical elements project this scanning beam
of light through the pupil and onto the retina to create an image. What the
viewer sees is a 640×400 pixels (VGA) image projected in front of him, as if on
a large video screen.

The device is at the beta stage and is expected to hit the US market this
year. More details available at:,

Pragya Madan

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