Researchers did this study to demonstrate the potential clinically meaningful benefits of a thermal camera integrated with the Argus II, an artificial vision therapy system.

Seven blind patients implanted with Argus II retinal prosthesis participated in the study. Two tasks were investigated: localizing up to three heat-emitting objects by indicating the objects’ location and discriminating a specific heated object out of three presented on a table. Heat-emitting items placed on a table included a toaster, a flat iron, an electric kettle, a heating pad, and a mug of hot water. Subjects completed the two tasks using the entire Argus II system with a visible-light camera and the thermal camera-integrated Argus II.

Subjects more accurately localized heated objects displayed on a table and discriminated against a specific type of thing presented with the thermal camera integrated with the Argus II versus the unmodified Argus II camera.

The study concluded that a thermal camera integrated with the artificial vision therapy system helps users locate and differentiate heat-emitting objects more precisely than a visible light sensor. The integration of the thermal camera with the Argus II may significantly benefit patients’ daily lives.