Ok, so none of us here can speak or write in Mandarin, so in a way we shouldn’t be complaining. However, coming down the line from The China Post is the most confusing and inaccurate press release we’ve stumbled across in a while.
So, the gist of things doesn’t go much beyond the title. They’re establishing an “intelligent prosthetics” research center at National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) in Hsinchu City, which will be headed by Liu Wen-Tai, currently of UC Santa Cruz. It’s unclear if they mean he’s leaving UCSC, or is going to be directing from afar. Also, this Medgadgeteer knows him as Wen-Tai Liu, but we’ve never really understood which name is the first or last in traditional Chinese identification.
They go on to say he’s been “working on electronic eyes” for years. That’s a bit of a stretch, as he’s been part of an engineering research center involving the Doheny Eye Institute’s Artificial Retina Project. So…not so much the “electronic eye” as the electronics engineering expert of a research team that has an electrode array that stimulates the eye.
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.
What they’re referring to is the Second Sight Medical Products Argus I implant (Second Sight never gets any credit). It doesn’t have a “16 pixel chip”. It has a CCD camera mounted to a set of glasses, the signal of which is fed to a 16 channel electrode array placed on the retina. It doesn’t replace the retina, but stimulates what remains of the retina (most likely retinal ganglion cells) to send a signal to the patient’s visual system.
They go on to talk inaccurately about the second generation (the SSMP Argus II implant, now going through trials), but not so egregiously. It’s the next comment that really doesn’t make sense…
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.
Translation and syntax aside, how are any of the items discussed not medical devices? If they’re starting an institute for intelligent prosthetics, a good first step would be to communicate that they are in fact medgadgets.
Also, given that much of this intelligent prosthetics research is currently funded by DARPA (the D is Defense), we’d be curious to see if this is trying to be the Chinese counterpoint to American military research.
Here’s the press release…good luck.