Cyberpunk Review » So, um…Can you make me a Cyborg?

November 19, 2008

So, um…Can you make me a Cyborg?

Puzzlehead screen cap


San Francisco artist Tina Vlach, who lost her left eye in an accident, is now seeking a Webcam for her prosthetic eye. Tina starts off her post with a Donna J. Haraway quote:


“A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction.”


In an interview with the Washington Post, Tina states:


“There have been all sorts of cyborgs in science fiction for a long time, and I’m sort of a sci-fi geek. With the advancement of technology, I thought, ‘Why not?’”


BBC News

Why not indeed. Donna Haraway’s quote is especially pertinent here in that she is taking social constructions in reality and fiction to inform and potentially shape future advances in the real world. And truly, considering the advances we’ve seen in prosthetic limbs recently, perhaps this is not so far fetched. Just today we’ve heard that the researchers have developed micro-needle array sensors in tungsten carbide, which are around the size of a matchstick head, that will help amputees move artificial limbs with brain power.


And I do love the merging of social software concepts with post-human advances - now we have a call to arms from a needy person looking to have a functional eye again, who is using the latest advances in world communication technologies to put a call to arms to the engineering community. Tina is in essence looking for an augmented reality eye implant to give her a different set of sensory input that was not possible with her real eye.

My favorite part of her post though are the requirements specs:


Specifications: (I just put this together from the research I’ve done about miniature video cameras.)

* 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)

External Mobile Application:

* Acts as remote
* Power source
* Feed

Other Advanced options:

* Wireless charger
* Sensors that respond to blinking enabling camera to take still photos, zoom, focus, and turn on and off.
* Dilating pupil with change of light.
* Infrared / Ultraviolet


Um, yeah - lets definitely work on the wireless charger requirement! That solves the need to remove the eye, or to have one of those annoying cords attached to your eye! And in looking at the quality and breadth of the responses to her post, its clear she has motivated a large community of engineers to start working on this problem. Here’s to hoping Tina finds a solution - one which will aid everyone else in her situation.


November 19, 2008

Mr No 1 said:

Wow, this definitely puts the cyber in the punk. “Acts as remote” LOL.
I’m just thinking, would what you see through the webcam go also to your active memory/LTM or would it only act as a recording device? If the images go straight to your brain, this opens even more possibilities… “Infrared / Ultraviolet” - Predator, here we come!

Mr No 1 said:

From the interview with the Washington Post: “Of course, the eye cam would not be connected to her brain, so it would not function as an actual eye replacement.”


November 20, 2008

SFAM said:

Hi Mr. No, agreed. But the cool thing here from a post-human standpoint is she’s taken the loss of organ, but is looking to replace it with something different - something which gives her capabilities previously not envisioned by people. This trend line will only increase. Even if at some point she can connect the images to her brain, she won’t have an eye replacement - she’ll have something altogether different.

Mr No 1 said:

Absolutely. Even if I think it’d be just like having a regular video recorder kept in your eye socket instead of your pocket, this is definitely worth an article here =)

November 21, 2008

Joss said:

I use a prosthetic eye and i am a lover of cyberpunk/sci-fi, now i want a webcam too !
Even if it can’t send images to the brain, it will be awesome to record movies and take images, i would feel like an spy cyborg haha.

Ak!mbo said:

Even though she won’t be able to use the prosthetic as a replacement for her functional eye, this definitely paves the way for future generations gaining that possibility. The wireless power isn’t that far fetched, though there’s been little news from that front in a while. Search the forums for articles I found around the net a few years back. I haven’t been combing the Tubes for techy news as actively since tat time, so there could be something new happening that’s just passed me buy…

November 22, 2008

Emtu said:

Oh man, I remember seeing something about replacing a human eye with a camera that sends signals to the brain on TV a long time ago. I recall a guy who was blind and with all these wires and whatnot coming out of his head attached to a camera (the whole thing was huge and very 90’s-ish) and he had always wanted to drive a car. With this apparatus he was able to see outlines of objects and he even got to drive a car in an empty parking lot. I don’t suppose anyone else heard of this guy? It was on TV sometimes in 98 or 99 I think.

johnkzin said:

You’d think she’d want a micro-SD card, not an mini-SD card :-}

November 23, 2008

KBlack said:

A wireless charger would be perfectly feasible by magnetic induction. She wouldn’t have any cable directly in her eye, but she would still have to be wired to something (unless you have a freaking huge electromagnet, it’s best to stick a small one to your temple when you wanna charge up.)

Mr No 1 said:

Emtu, I remember that =) It was very basic but the possibility of regaining your sight (even if you cannot actually see objects like the real thing) is something amazing. I wonder if the brain would need much wiring to process those different light spectrum images…

November 24, 2008

Ghostface said:

I don’t think you necessarily have to wire the brain to see in those spectrums as you could just make it so the person sees the spectrum as if they were wearing infra-red goggles.

As for this; even though it cannot connect to her brain, It’s quite and interesting project. Good to see her taking transhumanism into her own hands. It will open up doors for later on 5 years down the road.

Mr No 1 said:

About seeing in different spectrums, well, I dont know much about neurology, but I thought you may need to train your brain at least to recognise the different impulses those images would send. After all, IR googles do all the work for us basically =) But yeah, dont really have a clue.

November 25, 2008

johnkzin said:

Someone is working on a contact lens display. If you could guarantee that the two eyes will stay in close sync, then you could use the contact lens on the good eye as the display for the augmented reality information generated by the camera eye.

November 29, 2008

Saito said:

Wireless charging is incredibly feasable seeing as how they have already developed a product, problem is, nothing at the moment without changing its battery would be compatable. but wirless charging for one-off devices like this is already a reality. she would just have to wear an eye-patch to charge the device

December 19, 2008

Wintermute said:

In your specs for the mini-camera, don’t forget to leave out the Windoze OS.

June 19, 2009

GetFamous said:

I want one! I want one! I want one! I want one! I want one! I want one! I want one!

*deep breath*

Sorry about that. I’ve been talking about wanting robot eyes for the last 5 years. I swear on the http protocol that I’m going to have at least one before I die.

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