Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one before…A guy walks into a bar with a tiny camera mounted in his fake right eye. Well, I’ll stop right there because you probably haven’t heard that one before and, more importantly, it’s no joke.
Meet the Eyeborg. No, he hasn’t come from the future to take someone out in the present to alter future events. That’s a different borg.
This one is named Rob Spence and he is a Canadian filmmaker who just happens to have one (regularly working) eye. The other one is the prosthetic eye with a wireless video camera embedded in it. It’s not connected to his brain but it does provide the world’s first literal point of view including glancing around and blinking.
Turning Tragedy Into Opportunity
Rob Spence lost the vision in his right eye in a shotgun accident as a child, but it certainly hasn’t slowed the man down as he’s now equipped with an RF-enabled camera eyeball that can transmit video to an external recorder.
Spence has actually been working with his robotic eye cam for several years now and has spent a lot of time of late upgrading the camera’s technical aspects and recently stated this model has made quite a few improvements over the first one. This one, he explains, looks a lot more like a regular eye then previous incarnations.
His Eyeborg Project began several year ago, roughly 2009 when he decided he wanted a prosthetic eye with a video camera in it to shot documentaries. “A far less obtrusive way to make a film,” he said back then. Spence hooked up with ocularist Phil Bowen who designed a two-part prosthetic eye shell that could house electronics. A gentleman named Kosta Grammatis, an engineer, joined Spence shortly thereafter designing and executing the world’s first wireless camera inside a prosthetic eye. Oddly enough he did this on Spence’s kitchen table.
A company called Rf-links joined the fray – a giant in RF wireless design – custom-making the innovative miniature camera and micro RF transmitter that is really the brains of Spence’s latest model.
As Spence once told me at a 6Sight Imaging Conference years ago, “If you lose your eye and have a hole in your head, then why not stick a camera in there?” he queried.
And so, with the blink of an eye, Spence was off and running. For those who may be wondering, the camera is not connected to the optic nerve — meaning Spence can’t see out of it. Rather, what the “eye” sees is visible on a handheld monitor, and Spence can turn the camera on and off with the tap of a magnet.
Working Out The Kinks
There are some limitations he’s faced with regard to actually shooting a full-length documentary as once eye cam is inserted in his socket there are temperature issues that cause the camera to overheat and this issue has limited Spence to less than five minutes of video at a time.
He says the issue is fixable and that he hopes to have a version that can shoot for several hours at a clip within months. The documentarian claims he’ll be diving into some deeply emotional work once this phase of the Eyeborg Project is complete.
So then, if you happen to meet Rob Spence sometime later this year just be aware, everything you do and say might be the subject of the next documentary by the Eyeborg Project.
(Images courtesy of The Eyeborg Project)