'Bionic' Pair Seeks Webcams for Eyes

A San Francisco artist sent ripples through the blogosphere when she posted a "call for engineers" on her Web site, asking for advice on replacing an artificial eye with a webcam.

But now it seems that the bionic Eve has found her Adam, so to speak.

On Tuesday, a Canadian documentary filmmaker launched a blog to announce that he is already pursuing that goal and plans to have a working prototype by Christmas.

"Like Tanya Vlach, the 'bionic woman' to my 'bionic man,' I lost an eye and want to replace it with a wireless webcam eye. I chatted with her and I think we are going to work together," Rob Spence wrote on his blog.

"As far as I'm concerned everyone who has a fake eye should turn it into a video camera," said Spence, 36, who lost his eye when he was 11 years old. He was playing with a gun at his grandfather's farm in Ireland; it backfired and severely injured his eye. Years later, he had his eye removed.

"When you're a filmmaker and you have hole in your head, and you like 'Star Trek,' it's a natural progression," he told ABCNews.com.

In talking to Vlach, he continued, he recognized his desire to turn a loss into an opportunity.

"As soon as I have a working prototype, I'd be happy to give her one," he said. "She went through the same exact thought process that I went through."

'An Experiment in Wearable Technology'

After Vlach lost her left eye in a 2005 car accident, the now-35-year-old artist launched a blog to document her experience.

Titled One-Eyed, the site is about "the future of sight, a chronicling of her adjustment to a monocular life, and why she looks so damn good in an eye patch," she writes.

A self-proclaimed "sci-fi geek," Vlach was intrigued by the possibilities that current technology could offer her.

"Ever since my accident I've been fascinated about having a bionic eye," she told ABCNews.com.

Recognizing that miniature cameras abound in cell phones, webcams and other mobile cameras, she wondered whether a camera small enough to fit in her prosthetic eye might also exist. Vlach said that she's been working on a documentary about her accident and researching the eye-cam idea for more than a year.

"It was my way of recreating the eye that I lost," she said.

Calling it "an experiment in wearable technology, cybernetics and perception," Vlach posted a challenge on her blog, asking engineers for help in creating a camera that could be implanted in her artificial eye.

The camera would not restore her sight, but would allow her to record her life from her lost eye's point of view. Vlach said she'll decide how to use the video once she's closer to actually having the device.

Once Wired magazine's Kevin Kelly mentioned it on his blog, her post quickly caused a blogospheric stir.

Vlach said she expected some attention but has been surprised by the more than 100 blog comments and 50 or so e-mails she's accumulated since her post went live last week.

But one of the most promising message she received has been the one from Spence.

As luck would have it, the Toronto-based filmmaker is actually not so far from Vlach this week, attending an imaging technology conference in Monterey, Calif.

The purpose of his trip? To make a presentation about his plans to enhance his artificial eye.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...