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NCTU to establish ‘intelligent prosthetics’ research center

National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) in Hsinchu City is to establish a new research center for intelligent prosthetics, specializing in assisting the physically impaired with advanced bionic devices or biomedical technology, NCTU President Wu Chung-yu announced yesterday at a press conference in Taipei.

Wu also noted that the center will be headed by Liu Wen-tai, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Liu, who has been devoted to the research and development of electronic eyes for years, said that with the help of the center, the improvement project on the existing generation of electronic eyes should provide fruitful results.

The first generation of electronic eye — developed and tested in the United States — employs a 16-pixel chip as an artificial light receptor. When implanted into the eye, the device can replace a dysfunctional retina, providing partial vision to the patient.

For the second-generation work, the light sensing matrix will be expanded to 8x8 pixels to provide wider vision and the power will be provided by wireless transmission to allow greater head movements. The improved version will soon enter human testing both in the U.S. and Taiwan, according to Liu.

Besides visual enhancement devices, Liu noted that the center will also focus on non-medical electronic devices, such as ones that can help paralyzed patients regain body control by invigorating body parts with electric currents, or ones that can alleviate syndromes related to depression by stimulating certain areas of the brain.

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