Feb 07, 2000
Artificial vision system
for the blind
The Dobelle Institute, Inc.
New York A biomedical engineering team announced development of
an artificial vision system providing independent mobility to blind people. The system,
reflecting more than 30 years in development work by the Dobelle Institute in New York
City and its affiliates on Long Island and in Switzerland, enables a totally blind person
to achieve visual acuity of about 20/400, in a narrow visual "tunnel."
The "Dobelle Eye," as described in the current issue of the
ASAIO Journal (the journal of American Society of Artificial Internal Organs) and in
companion commentaries in Nature and Lancet, consists of a sub-miniature television camera
and an ultrasonic distance sensor, both of which are mounted on a pair of eyeglasses. The
sensors connect through a cable to a miniature computer, which is worn in a pack on a
person's belt. After processing the video and distance signals, the computer uses
sophisticated computer-imaging technology, including edge-detection algorithms to simplify
the image eliminating "noise." The computer then triggers a second microcomputer
that transmits pulses to an array of 68 platinum electrodes implanted on the surface of
the brain's visual cortex. Bringing wires through the skin for two decades without
discomfort or infection is one of many independent inventions that has made the new visual
When stimulated, each electrode produces one to four closely spaced
phosphenes, which have been described as resembling "stars in the sky." This
white phosphene on a black background "map" is roughly eight inches by two
inches at arms length.
The patient in the study reported in ASAIO Journal is a 62-year-old
male who was totally blinded by trauma when he was 36 years old. After learning to use the
system and "read" the display, the patient is now able to read two inch tall
letters at a distance of five feet, representing a visual acuity of about 20/400. Although
the relatively small electrode array produces tunnel vision, the patient is also able to
navigate in unfamiliar environments including the New York City subway system. By
replacing the sub-miniature television camera with a special electronic interface, the
patient is also learning to "watch" television, use a computer, and gain access
to the Internet.
"The development of an artificial eye that can enable the blind to
"see" realizes a prediction made by Benjamin Franklin when he reported the
discovery of electricity in 1751," said Dr. William H. Dobelle founder of the Dobelle
Institute. "Our progress represents the work of more than 300 scientists, engineers
and physicians who contributed to various aspects of the project. With further
refinementsincluding larger arrays of electrodes and more powerful
computersthe system is expected to provide a "cure" for most types of
pediatric and adult blindness . Brains of sighted people respond to stimulation like those
of blind people, so the system may also be useful for people with very low vision."
The computer package employed in the initial system was the size of a
large bookcase and weighed several thousand pounds. After six generations of improvement
over the last 21 years, the external electronics package has now been miniaturized so it
is about the size of a dictionary and weighs approximately ten pounds, including
Dr. Dobelle's first human experiments in this artificial vision project
took place beginning in 1970 and involved cortical stimulation of 37 sighted volunteers
undergoing surgery on the occipital lobe under local anesthesia to remove tumors and other
lesions. Three blind volunteers were then temporarily implanted with electrode arrays to
stimulate the visual cortex. Subsequent experiments involved four blind volunteers who
were implanted with permanent electrode arrays employing percutaneous connecting
pedestals. The Dobelle system's electrodes and connecting pedestal were surgically
implanted in two blind volunteer's brains in 1978 at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical
Center in New York City. Both have retained their implants and one is the subject of the
study reported in the ASAIO Journal.
Dr. Dobelle said that the new artificial vision systems are expected to
be made available, on a limited commercial basis, starting later this year.
The Dobelle Institute and its commercial affiliates in Long Island, NY
and Zurich, Switzerland constitute one of the world's most sophisticated organizations for
education, research, development, manufacturing and clinical implementation of medical
devices. Over the last 30 years, the Dobelle Institute has been responsible for the
design, manufacture and distribution of other neurological "pacemakers" to
control breathing, intractable pain and the urogenital system of about 15,000 patients in
more than 40 countries. These clinical systems have gained full regulatory and
reimbursement approval from the FDA, Medicare and analogous foreign agencies.
For further information, including videoclips and reproducible art
please visit http:/www.artificialvision.com
Intel to build its first high volume 300 mm producTion wafer
fab in arizona
Intel Corporation announced it will build its first high-volume
production manufacturing facility for 300 millimeter wafers, in Chandler, Ariz. The
company said it will invest $2.0 billion to build and equip the wafer fabrication
facility. The project is contingent upon local governmental approval, expected in the next
"This facility will help us maintain our leadership in the
extremely competitive world of semiconductors. Fab 22 will give us more manufacturing
capacity in order to help us better address our customers' growing need for high
performance microprocessors," said Mike Splinter, Intel senior vice president and
general manager of the Technology and Manufacturing Group.
The 300 mm (12-inch) wafer offers 225 percent of the silicon surface
area(over twice as much surface area), and about 240 percent of the printed die
(individual computer chips) per wafer, relative to standard 200 mm (8-inch) wafers used in
many semiconductor manufacturing plants today. In addition, the larger wafers will reduce
manufacturing costs per wafer by more than 30 percent. Splinter continued, "Intel
plans to bring this fab on line in record time to meet our customers' needs. It will
initially begin production using Intel's 0.13-micron process technology with copper
metallization on 200 mm wafers in 2001 and transition into the production of 300 mm
wafers." A micron is approximately l/100th the width of a typical human hair.
The construction of the new facility will create an estimated 1,000 new
jobs over the next five to eight years. These jobs include technicians, engineers and
support personnel. There are currently 8,150 Intel employees in Chandler. The new fab will
be located on Intel's 705 acre Ocotillo campus in Chandler, near Intel's existing Fab 12.
Intel broke ground on Fab 12 in 1994 and was producing computer chips by the summer of
The new fab will have approximately 360,000 square feet, 133,000 of
which will be cleanroom. Additional buildings will be constructed adjacent to Fab 22 and
will include a four-story, 320,000 square foot manufacturing support building, a 123,000
square foot central utility building and several expansions to existing buildings and a
In addition to announcement, Intel is also continuing to evaluate other
sites for additional manufacturing capacity, including its site in New Mexico.
Intel, the world's largest chip maker, is also a leading manufacturer
of computer, networking and communications products. Additional information is available
Pakistani Jewellery Designers Get Worldwide Acclaim
The winners of the Zargalli 1999 gold jewellery design contest have
been selected for final judging in the Gold Virtuosi International Gold Jewellery Design
Contest being held in Vicenza, Italy.
This is the first time that Pakistani jewellery designers have been
recognised and included in an international gold jewellery design contest.
These designers will have their prize winning designs fabricated by the
co-sponsor jewellers of Zargalli, which are A.K. Motiwala Jewellers, Ar-Raheem Jewellers,
Chhotani Jewel Centre, New Ruby Jewellers and Karat Jewellers (Lahore).
Zargalli is the first ever gold jewellery contest in Pakistan. It was
first launched in 1999 by the Worid Gold Council, and received an overwhelming response,
with over 1650 submitted by more than 500 designers.
Th contest has now been launched in the current year as Zargalli 2000,
and is expected to generate an even higher response than Zargalli 1999.
The Gold Virtuosi International Gold Jewellery Design Contest has been
launched jointly by the World Gold Council, AngloGold and the Vicenza Fair Authorities,
and its intention is to promote the use of gold jewellery.
Commenting on the inclusion of the Pakistani designers in Gold
Virtuosi, Mr. Yousuf Akhtar Hussain, Manager Pakistan and Egypt, World Gold Council, said,
"It is indeed a source of pride and inspiration for us that the winners of Zargalli
1999 have been included in Gold Virtuosi. It is just goes to show the wealth of talent
that Pakistani jewellery designers have."
The World Gold Council is a non-profit organisation representing the
interests of gold producers worldwide. Its primary objective is to identify markets with a
high potential for gold consumption and to increase the global off-take of gold.
Pakistan Society for Training and Development
The Pakistan Society for Training and Development will hold its Second
National HR Conference on "Competencies and Values for National Growth," on
February 23rd and 24th, 2000, at the Pearl Continental Hotel, Karachi.
This Conference will focus on identifying the managerial competencies
and relevant professional values required to support and drive National Growth. It will be
a high profile conference, which will attract CEO's, HR and Business Managers and
Renowned professionals from the corporate sector and the academic world
will present papers on six related topics and provide an indepth perspective on various
human resource development techniques and methodologies and their importance in
accelerating national growth.
Over 300 professionals and academicians are expected to participate in
this conference, and they will share their opinion and knowledge of the human resource
LHC/Hual Joint Venture
HUal (based in Oslo, Norway) the world's sixth largest car carrier
operatior, transporting almost 1 million car equivalent units in 1999, and owning /
operating almost 74 modern Ro/Ro vessels has changed its ownership structure.
The company's current 50/50 co-owners Leif Hoegh & Co. (LHC) and
Ugland International Holdings (UIH) have reached an agreement whereby LHC will purchase
UIH's shares in HUAL and become the sole shareholder as of March 31, 2000. The deal is
worth almost USD 400 million, including a cash component of USD 233 million.
Mr. Thor J. Guttormsen, President of LHC, will take over from Karl
Hauger as President of HUAL, whilst the latter will be appointed to HUAL's Board of
Directors as full time advisor to the new President.
Mr. Guttormsen has said: "The acquisition is a compelling
strategic investment in our core business at an attractive price".
LHC will continue to develop HUAL's business and organisation based on
the existing successful platform, and with its necessary support and engagement, an even
stronger HUAL will emerge which should be well placed to meet the challenges ahead,
especially in an environment of industry consolidation.
M/s General Shipping Agencies (Pvt) Ltd, Karachi will continue as
HUAL's agents in Pakistan, as well as already representing LHC in Pakistan.
New Insurance Act?
The government of Pakistan is nowadays actively engaged in bringing
about changes in insurance legislation by replacing the existing Insurance Act of 1938
with a new Act drafted by foreign consultants who were engaged on the advice of Asian
Development Bank. This step has surprised everybody as the existing Insurance Act had
stood the test of time and many of its provision had been judicially scrutinized over the
years. Legal experts strongly feel that amendments wherever required could easily be made
in the existing Act and continuity maintained.
The new draft legislation prepared by the foreign consultants does not
at all take into account the ground realities in the country and the present structure of
the insurance industry. For instance the consultants are advocating a minimum paid up
capital requirement of Rs.80 million for general insurance companies when only two or
three years back government had fixed it at Rs.20 million. All generl insurance companies
are required to bring their paid up capital to Rs.80 million in three years which is an
extremely difficult thing under the present economic conditions, likely to persist even in
the coming years.
Again in place of the existing solvency margin requirement the foreign
consultants in their draft have proposed exceptionally high limits which no insurance
company in Pakistan will be able to comply with, resulting in the closure of all insurance
companies of the country and consequent unemployment, disruption and chaos.
The foreign consultants have also strangely enough suggested that
Pakistan insurance market be opened to foreigners and there should be no restriction on
placement of insurance and reinsurance abroad. Present law regulates this as the
Controller of Insurance has first to be satisfied that local insurers can not provide
cover or absorb the excess in case of reinsurance. In the scheme of things in the mind of
the foreign consultants no permission from government should be necessary. This it is
feared will not only cripple the local private insurance companies but also destroy
Pakistan Insurance Corporation, State Life, National Insurance Corporation as well as
result in huge drain of our hard earned foreign exchange.
Besides these there are many other provisions in the new draft bill
prepared by the foreign consultants which have been taken from laws of highly developed
insurance markets, which under present conditions prevailing in Pakistan cannot be put
It is learnt that local insurance industry as well as national
corporations have strongly taken up with the Ministry of Commerce against it and requested
the government to deal with it firmly in the national interest and not to bow down before
ADB or their foreign consultants for the sake of meagre amounts of loans which they have
promised to lend if government of Pakistan agrees to bring about changes as dictated by
ADB and their foreign consultants.