Rob Spence Implants a Bionic Camcorder in His Eye

Filmmaker Rob Spence has done much to turn lemons into lemonade. When he was 13, he was tragically involved in a shotgun accident that took the vision from one of his eyes. But instead of feeling bad about what happened, he made the best of it and decided to wear a bionic camcorder in his prosthetic eye. He plans to use this camera to record his every-day life. To do this, he plans to record conversations with the hidden camera in his eye in order to show what a true conversation looks like without subjects being aware the camera is on. This does raise some ethical issues, but Spence has said that he plans on having subjects sign a release before he includes any footage with their image in his documentary.

Of course, what’s most interesting of all is how the camera technology works. The camera consists of a 1.5 mm low resolution video camera, a small round printed circuit board, video transmitter, and a 3-volt rechargeable Varta microbattery all encased in a standard clear acrylic. In order to charge the “eye”, the prosthetic also has two holes for recharging via a laptop. Using the wireless transmitter in the eye, Spence is able to relay footage from his eye live to a flat screen television. Though the image is fairly low quality and a bit jerky, he plans to make a live online stream of what he is seeing to the web. A true life-casting experience that will allow anyone to see the world from the filmmaker’s perspective. The wireless transmitter he has is far too weak to get a signal to a television without holding areceivingwire to his cheek but Rob plans to fix that by getting a higher powered antennae that can transmit footage to areceiveron a belt which he can then hook into a much larger transmitter hidden in a backpack that he’ll take with him. Not the most comfortable situation, but the best technology has to offer for now. However, if technology happens to improve enough, there’s no reason why Spence couldn’t someday be broadcasting HD footage from his eye to a cell phone in his pocket that can then broadcast it to the world. With better and smaller camera technology being put into cell phone cameras every day it only seems a matter of time.

Daniel Bruns
Daniel Bruns
Dan Bruns is an award winning cinematographer and editor.

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