We have developed a CMOS vision chip, an image sensor with pixel-level signal processing, to replace photoreceptor cells in the retina. In this paper, we describe a pixel-level signal processing, which is to control on the stimulus waveform and the amount of the electrical injection charge.
Our CMOS vision chip is an array of a pixel, which consists of a photo detector, a pulse shaper, and a current stimulus circuit. The photo detector circuit generates a pulse frequency modulated (PFM) pulse, which frequency is proportional to the intensity of the incoming light. The PFM photo detector is also modified to restrict the maximum frequency of PFM pulse signal for safety neural stimulation.
The PFM pulse signal should be converted into suitable waveform for efficient neural stimulation. We have employed a pulse shaper to generate one stimulus pulse from one PFM pulse. The pulse parameters (i.e., pulse duration, polarity, etc) of the output pulse signal are controlled by the external signal.
For the electrical neural stimulus, the stimulus intensity is given by the amount of the electrical injection charge. The amount of the injection charge should be enough to evoke a phosphene but should be low to avoid the damage of the retinal tissue caused by the excess charge injection. In our prototyped CMOS vision chip, the stimulus current amplitude is used to control the amount of charge. The 6-bit binary-weighted digital-to-analog converter (DAC) with 2μA resolution is used to control the stimulus current amplitude.