Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bionic woman: not so far off

Three years after losing her left eye in a car accident, San Franciscan Tanya Vlach wants to make her artificial eye more useful: She's planning to put a video camera in her eye socket with the goal of having a bionic eye.

Asked in an e-mail what her inspiration is, Vlach wrote:

"The Bionic Woman and maybe Bladerunner! Ever since I lost my eye I would fantasize about having a bionic eye. So I did research and I realized that as technology becomes increasingly smaller it seemed doable to engineer a miniature video camera small enough to put inside my acrylic prosthetic. And then finally I would have a device as close to an eye as I could get. Also, I love photography and video, this would be a true P.O.V (point of view) perspective."

Work is already under way in various places that could serve as a starting point for Vlach. For instance, researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have created a contact lens that contains an electronic circuit and LEDs. And scientists at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University, meanwhile, have developed what could be a precursor to a bionic eye, though it's unclear whether that eye has quite the Web functionality that Vlach is seeking. There's also work being done in Boston on embedding chips behind the retina.

In her blog, "one-eyed," Vlach discusses the technical aspects of what she hopes to achieve with her "experiment in wearable technology, cybernetics, and perception."
"I am attempting to recreate my eye with the help of a miniature camera implant in my prosthetic /artificial eye," she writes. "While my prosthetic is an excellent aesthetic replacement, I am interested in capitalizing on the current advancement of technology to enhance the abilities of my prosthesis for an augmented reality."

Beyond that, Vlach reckons that the eye technology could even incorporate wireless charging, allow the pupil to dilate and constrict as light changes, and use blinking to take still photos, zoom, focus, and turn on and off.

She's currently working on a science fiction screenplay and has several ideas for the technology, including making a documentary, broadcasting an online "lifecast," and doing art installations.

Full article:
Source: MSN

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