A backpack computer has been developed to let people test a bionic eye so the implant can be perfected for those needing it.

The bionic eye project aims to give some vision to people who have lost their sight by transmitting images from a pair of glasses which have been fitted with a video camera.

Those images go to the implant, which stimulates the optic nerve.

The prototype computer will simulate the experience for testers and help researchers develop the algorithms required for mobility and orientation.

The head of the wearable computer laboratory at the University of South Australia, Bruce Thomas, says the testing project involves equipment readily available which has been modified and made easy to use for practical medical research.

"We've repackaged a Mac mini-desktop computer, which is a small little computer," he said.

"We packed it up into a small backpack ... we've attached a number of sensors to a head-mounted display and engineered them up so they're quite comfortable.

"Our main effort was to take existing technology and make it a lot easier for people to use during experiments."

Professor Thomas says the headset worn by testers has been adapted from one used on gaming consoles.