Meet a man who is part human and part machine. Canadian filmmaker Rob Spence lost sight in his right eye after injuring it when he was 9 years old. In 2007, doctors told him they needed to remove the damaged eye. Instead of opting for a typical glass replica eye as a replacement, Spence worked with engineers to build a prosthetic eye that is also a working camera.
Spence says the inspiration for his unusual eye came from comic book characters with bionic body parts. These electronic or mechanical devices replace body parts and can improve their function. Spence’s bionic eye contains a battery, a camera, and a transmitter to send video signals. A magnetic switch allows Spence to turn the camera on and off by tapping it with a magnet.
Spence’s camera isn’t connected to his brain via a nerve, like a real eye, so he can’t use it to see. But he is able to capture videos of the world around him.
The eye wirelessly transmits the footage, which can be watched in real time on a screen, streamed over the internet, or recorded.
Because of the camera’s location, the videos that Spence records have a lot of glancing and blinking, like natural eye movements. To remove these distractions, Spence edits together video recorded by his prosthesis with other footage taken by a regular camera. He’s now working on a short documentary about the future of vision, and he plans to use some of the videos he’s taken with his bionic eye.