After announcing its Watch collection prices and release date, Apple has unveiled a new 12in-screened “retina” class laptop.
The new laptop has a higher resolution screen than its MacBook Air range, which remains on sale.
Apple said the new model was the “world’s most energy efficient notebook”.
The company added that it was its thinnest laptop to date, measuring 0.52in at its thickest point, thanks in part to it no longer needing an internal fan.
It is also Apple’s first laptop to provide vibration feedback via its trackpad, and be sold in a gold-colored option.
However, it only features a single port – called USB-C – which it uses to provide the machine with power, data and output to an exterior monitor or TV.
Apple suggested that users could also use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to link the machine to other kit, but some users are likely to miss the ability to easily connect older peripherals such as an external hard disk or mouse.
The basic version will cost $1,299, making it a mid-range model for the company.
Apple also unveiled a new software product – called ResearchKit – for its iPhones that can be used by medical researchers to gather data from volunteers without the information ever being shared with Apple itself.
The tech giant revealed that the University of Oxford had already developed an app using the facility to help it investigate the causes of heart disease and New York’s Mount Sinai hospital is using it to study irritants that might cause asthma.
The move could potentially pave the way for Apple to seek regulators’ approval for its products to be used as diagnostic tools in the future.
ResearchKit will be open source – meaning any company or developer should be able to work with the platform.
Allen Zderad from Minnesota is now able to see his wife again after ten years of being blind due to a bionic eye.
The 68-year-old man started having serious vision problems around 20 years ago due to a condition known as retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease which affects the retina.
Allen Zderad, who worked as a chemist when, was declared effectively blind a decade ago.
The man continued his hobby of woodwork by developing his sense of touch and spatial relationships.
Mayo Clinic researcher and ophthalmologist Dr. Raymond Iezzi Jr. had been working on the Second Sight Argus II retinal prosthesis system when he reached out to Allen Zderad.
Dr. Raymond Iezzi Jr. considered Allen Zderad a suitable candidate for a bionic implant.
During the process, the ophthalmologist fitted 60 electrodes into Allen Zderad’s eye.
The electrodes work by interacting with a special camera attached to the patient’s glasses and a separate computer pack capable of sending information to the electrodes embedded in Allen Zderad’s retina, which then sends signals straight to the optic nerve.
After implant, Allen Zderad, a grandfather of ten, explains that he can’t make out detail, but he can now make out shapes and outlines.
According to British scientists, the prospect of reversing blindness has made a significant leap.
An animal study in the journal Nature Biotechnology showed the part of the eye which actually detects light can be repaired using stem cells.
The team at Moorfields Eye Hospital and University College London say human trials are now, for the first time, a realistic prospect.
Experts described it as a “significant breakthrough” and “huge leap” forward.
Photoreceptors are the cells in the retina which react to light and convert it into an electrical signal which can be sent to the brain.
However, these cells can die off in some causes of blindness such as Stargardt’s disease and age-related macular degeneration.
There are already trials in people to use stem cells to replace the “support” cells in the eye which keep the photoreceptors alive.
Now the London-based team has shown it is possible to replace the light-sensing cells themselves, raising the prospect of reversing blindness.
An animal study in the journal Nature Biotechnology showed the part of the eye which actually detects light can be repaired using stem cells
They have used a new technique for building retinas in the laboratory. It was used to collect thousands of stem cells, which were primed to transform into photoreceptors, and injected them into the eyes of blind mice.
The study showed that these cells could hook up with the existing architecture of the eye and begin to function.
However, the effectiveness is still low. Only about 1,000 cells out of a transplant of 200,000 actually hooked up with the rest of the eye.
Lead researcher Prof. Robin Ali said: “This is a real proof of concept that photoreceptors can be transplanted from an embryonic stem cells source and it give us a route map to now do this in humans.
“That’s why we’re so excited, five years is a now a realistic aim for starting a clinical trial.”
The eye is one of the most advanced fields for stem cell research.
It is relatively simple as the light sensing cells only have to pass their electrical message on to one more cell in order to get their message to the brain, unlike an attempt to reverse dementia which would require cells to hook up with far more cells all across the brain.
The immune system is also very weak in the eye so there is a low chance of the transplant being rejected. A few cells can also make a big difference in the eye. Tens of thousands of stem cells in the eye could improve vision, but that number of stem cells would not regenerate a much larger organ such as a failing liver.
Two men from UK, who have been totally blind for many years, have had part of their vision restored after surgery to fit pioneering eye implants.
The men are able to perceive light and even some shapes from the devices which were fitted behind the retina.
The patients are part of a clinical trial carried out at the Oxford University Eye Hospital and King’s College Hospital in London.
Professor Robert MacLaren and Dr.Tim Jackson are leading the trial.
The two patients, Chris James and Robin Millar, lost their vision due to a condition known as retinitis pigmentosa, where the photoreceptor cells at the back of the eye gradually cease to function.
The wafer-thin, 3 mm square microelectronic chip has 1,500 light-sensitive pixels which take over the function of the photoreceptor rods and cones.
The surgery involves placing it behind the retina from where a fine cable runs to a control unit under the skin behind the ear.
When light enters the eye and reaches the chip it stimulates the pixels which sends electronic signals to the optic nerve and from there to the brain.
The chip can have its sensitivity altered via an external power unit which connects to the chip via a magnetic disc on the scalp.
The wafer-thin, 3 mm square microelectronic chip has 1,500 light-sensitive pixels which take over the function of the photoreceptor rods and cones
Chris James from Wroughton in Wiltshire said there was a “magic moment” when the implant was switched on for the first time and he saw flashing lights – showing that the device was functional.
“I am able to make out a curve or a straight line close-up but I find things at distance more difficult. It is still early days as I have to learn to interpret the signals being sent to my brain from the chip.”
Chris James, a motor-racing enthusiast, says his ambition is to be able to make out the silhouettes of different cars on the race-track.
Prof.Robert MacLaren, who fitted the first implant in the UK at the Oxford Eye Hospital, said:
“It’s the first time that British patients who were completely blind have been able to see something.
“In previous studies of restorative vision involving stem cells and other treatments, patients always had some residual sight.
“Here the patients had no light perception at all but the implant reactivated their retina after more than a decade.”
The chip results in the brain receiving flashes of light rather than conventional vision – and it is in black and white rather than color.
But in an unexpected development, the other British man to have the implant says he is now able to dream in color for the first time in 25 years. Robin Millar says he is also able to stand in a room and detect light coming through windows.
Prof. Robert MacLaren said the results might not seem extraordinary to the sighted, but for a totally blind person to be able to orientate themselves in a room, and perhaps know where the doors and windows are, would be “extremely useful” and of practical help.
In 2010 a Finnish man who received the experimental chip was able to identify letters, but his implant worked only in a laboratory setting, whereas the British men’s devices are portable. The implant was developed by a German company, Retina Implant AG.
Dr. Tim Jackson, eye surgeon at King’s College Hospital who has also fitted one of the devices, said:
“This pioneering treatment is at an early stage of development, but it is an important and exciting step forward, and may ultimately lead to a much improved quality of life for people who have lost their sight from retinitis pigmentosa.
“Most of the people who receive this treatment have lost their vision for many years, if not decades. The impact of them seeing again, even if it is not normal vision, can be profound, and at times quite moving.”
Both surgeons stress that the chip is not a treatment but part of a clinical trial. Up to a dozen British patients will be fitted with the implants.
Although it could ultimately benefit patients with the most common form of progressive blindness, age-related macular degeneration, they are not eligible for the study at present.
Nor are patients with glaucoma or optic nerve disease.