Gennaris comprises a miniature camera worn by the user on custom designed headgear. High-resolution images from the camera are fed to a vision processor unit, which applies a number of signal processing techniques to extract the most useful features from the camera images. This new signal is fed – via a wireless transmitter – to up to 11 devices or 'tiles' that have been surgically implanted in the primary visual cortex of the brain. Each tile houses its own circuitry, wireless receiver and 43 hair-thin microelectrodes that stimulate the neurons in the primary visual cortex.
This stimulation evokes brief flashes of light known as 'phosphenes' in the visual field of the user, which the brain learns to interpret as images. The number of phosphenes depends upon the number of implanted electrodes. The first generation of Gennaris can support up to 473 electrodes. The device is implanted using standard neurosurgical techniques and will be externally adjustable after implantation for ongoing optimal performance.