VIDEO: TEDXBrussels - Rob Spence - Eyeborg, the Enhanced Self * 2024
VIDEO: TEDXBrussels - Rob Spence - Eyeborg, the Enhanced Self * 2024

Rob Spence, lost his eye at the age of nine

Rob Spence is an experienced producer who has run his own company and worked in-house at an agency. Broadcast, documentary, writing, content, commercial production, post-production, animation, advertising. I transformed a prosthetic eye into a wireless video camera that Time Magazine has named as one of the 50 best inventions of the year. TEDXToronto and TEDXBrussels speaker that regularly does public speaking about cybernetics, body hacking, and privacy.

One thing that stands out from his numerous projects in recent years is a documentary film about cyborgs, i.e. hybrid beings of man and machine. The Canadian is particularly interested in this for a very simple reason: he is one himself. And jokingly refers to himself as “Eyeborg” with his red robotic eye equipped with a tiny camera.

At the age of nine, while visiting his uncle in Ireland, Spence was playing “Cowboy” outside, wielding a shotgun. As he pulled the trigger, the rifle recoiled, severing his right eyeball in the process. He went blind and eventually lost his eye altogether in his mid-thirties. At the time, Spence was already making documentaries and suddenly recognized a potential that went far beyond that of a conventional glass eye.


Rob came up with a function for his missing eye and was inspired by cyborgs

Rob Spence a one-eyed filmmaker with a camera eye with the help of a crack team of young engineers, Spence was the first person in the world to turn this fantasy into a reality. 

They built him a camera that slots into his eye socket and, with the help of a wireless transmitter/receiver, can record everything in his field of view. The camera is a tiny 3.2 mm squared and has a resolution of 320×240.

The first version of the eyeborg – voted one of the best inventions of 2009 by Time Magazine – was born in 2009. Designed with the help of Steve Mann, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and expert in “cyborg” technology, this bionic eye constantly films and records what the director is going through. If this camera is not yet connected to his optic nerve and has not allowed Rob to recover the sight of his right eye.

Rob Spence has his credo: we are all cyborgs and fiction will soon supplant reality

Is teaming up with a young Polish Ophthalmologist to create an army of monocular cyborgs. Making wireless eye cameras are tricky because of the odd and small space where the electronics go.

He is now working with Marcin Jaworski, M.D. – Ophthalmology resident doctor and founder of Next Eye Prosthetics – to harness the predictability of 3D printed prosthetic eyes and improve the process. Rob and Marcin discuss their methodology and further explore the fascinating world of how we will see in the future. Her plan is to make camera-ready prosthetic eyes for anyone who needs one. And as the company’s guinea pig, Spence will never stop evolving his own eye. “Because unlike you puny people,” he says, “I can.”

He also says: “We’ve been working on a body of work exploring a broad and disparate group of people who form a growing movement of transhumanist thinkers and practitioners. Transhumanists hold an unwavering belief in the ability of technology to improve upon the human condition, to correct it’s flaws and weaknesses, to design how humans evolve and at the extreme end, to become immortal”.

Deus Ex: The Eyeborg Documentary” traces the journey of the pioneers of a humanity of cyborgs

Spence, who also does work for advertising agencies, was hired by the team behind the blockbuster video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution to create a documentary, using the eye camera, featuring himself and other real-life “cyborgs” with prosthetic limbs. The 12-minute documentary was released on YouTube about five days ago and has already garnered over 280,000 views.

The goal was to compare real-world cyborgs to those featured in the game, which is set in 2027 and depicts a world where people cut off their human limbs to replace them with far more advanced bionic body parts. One character has an electronic eye that can not only record video like Spence but is also connected to the brain and optic nerve and can overlay the game character’s view with augmented reality-style situational data.

In the real world people with prosthetics are lucky to get 20 per cent of the functionality of their human limbs, however, Spence believes technology is advancing so quickly that eventually the game’s augmented humanity fantasies will become real.

Rob Spence, a cyborg who lost an eye, replaced it with a wireless video camera * Todo lo relacionado