In Futurama, Season 7 Episode 7, Hermes feels sorry for himself because he was unable to protect his wife from street-mugging due to his small stature. He decided to start making upgrades on his body to better protect his family. He first replaced his torso with a metal one, then his legs, then his arms, and his eyes and eventually he replaced his human brain with a computer chip to become the ultimate cyborg. Except at that point, he was no longer a cyborg. part human part machine, he was a fully fledged robot where his humanity was no longer to be found.
I’m sure many of you have had this magical idea of upgrading your body, maybe install a synthetic liver that lets you drink endlessly, or get a set of bionic eyes that give you superhuman vision. But you shrugged it off as a day-dreaming exercise because the technology is still far ahead in the future.
Well, it turns out, it’s two years away.
Ocumetics Technology Corporation is a Canadian company currently conducting clinical testing for their Bionic Lens – a medical device that could make glasses and contact lenses obsolete. If everything goes as planned, the lens could be in your eyes in two years. And the capabilities it will give you are truly mind-blowing.
The Bionic Lens is a dynamic lens that replaces the natural lens inside the eye via one of the most common and successful procedures in medicine – cataract surgery. Once there, the lens restores clear vision at all distances without any visual quality problems. It can auto-regulate within the eye by connecting to the muscles that change the curvature of our natural lenses, which allows it to focus at different ranges – potentially much wider ranges than our natural sight is capable of. In addition, because the Bionic Lens responds with less than 1/100 the amount of energy of the natural lens, you can also focus on something all day without any strain on the eyes.
The Bionic Lens is going to redefine the “20/20 Vision” catchphrase. Imagine that you can see a clock’s dial 10 feet away. With the lens you would be able to see the dial in the same detail when it is 30 feet away.
What is even more exciting is that the lens is modifiable, which means 3rd party software developers and engineers can upgrade it and modify it to add new features or improve on the existing ones. Like, for example, installing projection systems that will give the user capabilities of projecting their phone screen, or integrating NASA technologies to allow for better focusing resolution than anything seen before, or even installing a system that allows for slow drug delivery inside the eye.
Dr. Garth Webb, the sole innovator behind the Bionic Lens and an optometrist with over 40 years of experience says:
“We have developed the Bionic lens to, in its default mode, make our lives function better in their normal realm and in its augmented capacity to allow for us to integrate seamlessly with the entire digital world. […] My humble perception is, that us human beings will be the center of artificial intelligence activity. So, I believe that we are going to filter and chaperon artificial intelligence that will be either around our head, or on our watch, or maybe both. So, it is, if you will, augmenting the human beyond what we normally anticipate.”
Commenting on the dark side of this technology, Webb notes that, in fact, its absence is what will eventually become the problem, as it provides “unfair” advantage to those who have it.
The Bionic Lens will not be a panacea for all types of eye conditions. It can’t treat color-blindness, cloudy corneas, severe macular degeneration, severe genetic retinal diseases or torn or damaged optic nerves. It does provide, however, an upgraded version of our own biological lens, which inevitably deteriorates with age.
The early adopters will have to pay about $3200 per lens, excluding the cost of the surgery. The company has already started compiling a list of clinics and surgeons, via referrals, that it will work with.