Mr. Harrell sent me the following letter and asked me to forward it to you.
Here it is:
I thought this type of device had been tried in Berkeley in the 70's.
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Date: Thu, 27 Jul 1995 14:52:15 -0400
Subject: revolutionary non-surgical sight
Dear Mr. Jaquiss,
Could you please forward this letter to the Research and Development
Committee, National Federation of the Blind. I do not have their email
Thank you, D A Harrell
This is not my first attempt to find some person or organization to help
build the first prototype. 12 Years ago I launched a similar campaign (a
newspaper ad, conventional letters, and numerous meetings) but was unable to
find anyone who believed that the machine would be of any use. No one
doubted that such a devise could indeed be constructed, the technology to
build it has existed for decades; but I was unable to convince anyone that
the fundamental principles were sound.
Since that time, I have gained a certain degree of notoriety in my field, due
to my recent publications introducing the new "cognitive physics". It is my
hope that this new credibility I now enjoy will cause people to take my
invention, described below, more seriously.
Did you ever put your hand on a TV screen to see if you can feel anything?
You can't. But if you could, you would feel thousands of dots being
electronically selected and lighted to create an image over the entire
If such a field were delivered to the "sea of nerve endings" contained in a
large area of skin, would a human being be able to make use of this
The devise is in three main parts:
1. A video camera.
2. A central processing unit (computer).
3. A flexible pad worn snugly to the skin (or scanning emitter) that
stimulates the nerve endings of the dermal area.
Briefly, the pictorial image from a video camera is received and processed by
a computer, and then delivered to an x,y grid (25,000+ picts), in the form of
dermal stimulating impulses. The specific type of stimulation is a variable
at this point. I have considered electric shock, heat, or laser (of low but
perceivable intensity), but there are other possibilities, including the type
of electric current which the brain is already accustom to receiving. This
question of what kind of stimulation would be most effective, can only be
answered through experimentation.
The neuro-system, brain, pattern recognition capabilities, and natural
adaptive powers of the human mind accomplish the remainder of this unorthodox
direct image perception.
One of the reasons that I am so completely convinced that this will work, is
that I have subjectively proved it. I have repeatedly conducted sessions in
which I sat quietly, blindfolded or with my eyes closed, while another person
drew simple pictures and letters on my back. At first I was only able to
deduce the images by reconstructing them in my mind, however eventually,
during many of the more focused sessions, the touch of the finger on my skin
began to "light up" in the darkness of my minds eye, leaving a trail that
lingered long enough in many cases for me to perceive the entire image or
letter as a coherent complete picture.
What I am essentially suggesting is that the normal two-dimensional image
that falls upon the cones and rods on the rear portion of the inner eye, can
be effectively replace (in its role with the visual cortex of the brain), by
a larger dermal area (such as the back, stomach, or scalp) undergoing a
different (but also 2 dimensional) stimulation; creating a parallel system of
input that the brain would have an opportunity to recognize in a somewhat
It is also the natural business of the brain to respond to a specific
overture of patterned stimuli. A mobile blind subject, wearing such a
devise, would have an opportunity to create a real-time feedback relationship
with the physical world.
I don't wish to sound sensational, but I have many reasons believe that some
individuals would be able to eventually adapt to such input, to the point
where they would be able to read a book, or even play a game of tennis
(although the inherent lack of depth perception would obviously be a
limitation in the latter activity).
Most sincerely, David Albert Harrell
All Rights Reserved.
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