The Technium

Eye-Cam Wanted


This is Tanya Vlach’s new eyeball. She lost her real one in a car accident a few years ago. I met Tanya at a film festival recently. During our conversation she said she was looking for help in turning her artificial eye into a eye-cam.  You know, a mini web cam inside an eyeball. It would capture live video and stream it to a memory somewhere and also perhaps eventually assist her own vision in real time. She confessed that she was not technologically adept enough to hack it on her own.

I suggested that she put her request out into the web to see if anyone there has any ideas. She is serious about the project, which is half art, half medical innovation. She doesn’t have any money to fund the contraption because she says, she is still trying “to figure out how to get out of my astronomical debt that I owe for the medical care that saved my life.”

Her solicitation for engineering help, and a place to reply is here.

I am attempting to recreate my eye with the help of a miniature camera implant in my prosthetic / artificial eye. The intraocular installation of an eye-cam will substitute for the field of vision of my left eye that I lost in 2005 from a car accident. 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.

Specifications for the eyeball:

    * DVR

    * MPEG-4? Recording

    * Built in SD mini Card Slot

    * 4 GB SD mini Card

    * Mini A/V out

    * Firewire / USB drive

    * Optical 3X

    * Remote trigger

    * Bluetooth wireless method

    * Inductors: (Firewire/USB, power source)

  • matt

    i suggest duct tape and a webcam from ebay.

  • matt

    i suggest duct tape and a webcam from ebay.

  • Rob

    I would suggest that the Cam itself be isolated as a cam/bluetooth and the memory device be paired with the bluetooth cam. In this way, you could carry something the size of a cell phone that could in fact have multiple connection options for your computer, have a view screen to see what you’re seeing (sounds weird but how else can you check your work). You can also have multiple storage choices with exchanging memory card or even a micro hd being done outside the “eye”.

    I have a BT adapter for my computer and the device is actually so small that the usb interface is almost 3x larger than the circuitry for the BT and some of that is dedicated to displaying a blue LED when active.

    The smallest cam I have seen online is a 3 gram device intended for use with RC air vehicles. I suspect that some weight could be saved by a simpler lens but that would reduce resolution so it’s a give and take situation. I am unsure how much of the circuitry could be laid out into a different configuration, but as long as connections and paths between components are maintained, there is no need to make circuits square so allowing the circuit board to be shaped better for the inside of the prosthetic.

    One thing she doesn’t mention is whether she is concerned about it still being astheticly pleasing. If she isnt’ concerned about it being too obviously a cam, it might be easier to assemble, which would make it cheaper. I have seen on The Science Channel that circuits can now be printed by computer printers, in some specialised machines, they can print both the paths and the transistors, leaving only the resistors and capacitors to be attached. This would enable printing the circuit in multiple layers thus reducing overall size, considering that parts could now be stacked (basically paper thin) in a smaller area.

    I would also take an idea from another device on the market right now, the “bionic ear” being hawked on TV by Lee Majors of bionic man fame. The hearing aid has internal rechargeable batteries and a case that is a charger. This takes the hassle out of changing batteries every week or month. A lot of small rechargeable batteries will cycle over 1000 times thereby giving many years of service if you figure one charge per day or less. Depending on overall cost and amount of use you want out of it, you may wish to have two so when a battery runs low you can switch.

    As for the first poster, Matt, you are rude. This person is exploring the possibilities of turning a disadvantage into an advantage. Comments like yours are neither useful nor tasteful. Think of your reaction if you lost one or both hands in an accident and some one told you to get some duct tape and a bailing hook from Home Depot. Being polite is not required in life, especially on the internet, but being rude is not acceptable.