A blind man who lost his sight 30 years ago has regained his vision, after being fitted with a bionic eye.

The 73-year-old is one of only three people in the UK to have undergone the experimental surgery, and can now see flashes of light, follow white lines on a road, and sort grey and black socks, Channel 4 News revealed this week.

Created by American company Second Sight, the Argus II uses a tiny camera and video processor mounted on sunglasses to send images to a miniature receiver at the back of the eye. An "artificial retina" consisting of electrodes then transmits messages along the optic nerve to the brain.
"It's a great privilege and an honour," he told reporters, "to take part in an experiment such as this."

Underwater activity

In other Weird Tech news from the last seven days, a Russian and Estonian gang are to go trial for pumping thousands of litres of vodka into the European Union through an underwater pipeline.

The 11 suspected smugglers, who are facing up to five years in prison, constructed the 2-kilometre pipeline through a reservoir on the Russian-Estonian border to avoid paying import taxes on the cheap Russian spirit. They managed to move 6,200 litres before finally getting caught.

"It might sound weird and unbelievable but it's a very real criminal case," Mari Luuk, a spokesman for Estonian prosecutors, told AFP.

Grand designs

In one of our favourite stories, an ambulance equipped with an ejector seat was just one concept model unveiled at the Pioneers 09 science conference in London on Wednesday.

Recognising that speed is of the essence in the ambulance service, the Autocare Concept "aims to get the pre-hospital clinician on-scene and ready to treat the patient as soon as possible" (presumably without requiring hospital treatment themselves).

Other exhibits included a bucking bronco-style ride controlled by the observer, and a virtual reality device that stimulates all five senses.

This week also proudly gave rise to the 'Bang! Bang!' gun iPhone app dubbed almost "too realistic", and EDAG's open-source Light Car, that lets any developer modify the vehicle's technologies.

And finally…

When Emma Schweiger of Janesville Township, Wisconsin opened a packet of crisps for a quick snack, the last thing she was expecting to find inside was a Nokia handset, complete with T-Mobile SIM card.

Having failed to notice the unusual weight of the bag, Schweiger was "absent-mindedly grabbing handfuls of chips while reading the newspaper," when she made the startling discovery. "You kind of don't want chips for a while" after something like that, she told local press.

Personally, we wouldn't mind scoring a free handset for 35p – greasy or not – but each to their own. The story comes a week after a mobile phone that went missing on a beach turned up in full working order – in the belly of a giant cod.