Bionic Contact Lenses?

Ok, now if I can just figure out how to put my finger that close to my eyeball, I’m golden!  Yeah.  I have never had a contact lens in my eye.

Check this out – a bionic contact lens!  Researchers at the technology company Innovega have developed (and are still developing) some pretty crazy stuff – contact lenses that allow you to be fed information and that improve your distance vision, both macro and micro.  Now we’re talking turkey here.  Check out this first video:

Then check out this one – this is from Innovega itself:

Now this could be some serious sh*t here, people. Let’s see where this develops.  From the press release at Innovega:

SEATTLE, WA., January 8, 2012 – Innovega Inc., a developer of wearable displays that are free from usual bulky optics, announced today that it has demonstrated mega-pixel eyewear in a compact and stylish form-factor. Management now intends to accelerate delivery of designs, components and licenses to selected strategic partners. Innovega will be exhibiting at the 2012 International CES event from Booth # 73403 in the Ballroom at The Venetian Hotel.

“Conventional mobile device screens are too small to read and certainly too small to enjoy. Over the past months we have demonstrated contact lens enabled eyewear for mobile devices including smartphones, portable game devices and media players that deliver panoramic, high-resolution experiences for entertainment and planned Augmented Reality (AR)* applications”, said Steve Willey, Innovega CEO. “During this same period, we collaborated with partners to finalize initial specifications of launch platforms which include a screen size that is equivalent to a 240 inch television (viewed at a usual distance of 10 feet)”.

Willey added, “Unless the display industry can deliver transparent, high-performance and compact eyewear, developers of AR and other compelling media applications will simply fail to create the excitement that consumers crave and the functionality that professional users absolutely need”.

Innovega’s new and natural interface comprises familiar, light-weight eyewear working with advanced contact lenses. One hundred million global consumers, including more than 20% of America’s 18 to 34 year-old, already wear contact lenses. With low switching costs, Innovega expects many will join other early adopter groups who wish to access rich media while remaining fully involved in their real-world activities. Management believes that consumers will be thrilled to wear and benefit from its new lens-based eyewear given the unique combination of benefits that this new interface offers.

Innovega designers and partners considered the future of personal media, social networking, and mobile computing, and converged upon an aggressive design-point that meets today’s needs as well as demands of high-performance AR which require a see-through and panoramic display interface. Innovega refers to its innovative product as a ‘lifestyle interface‘, since consumers view their digital content in a way that is similar to how they see the world around them. By providing a transparent, fashionable, and comfortable interface that is consistent with today’s active lifestyles, the architecture also eliminates the social barrier that traditional opaque and bulky video eyewear seems to create.

The Innovega iOptikTM architecture meets the demanding performance requirements of AR by eliminating the focusing optics that tend to limit the field of view of displayed media. Innovega replaces them with micro- and nano-fabricated optical elements that are integrated into otherwise conventional contact lenses. The recent demonstration of stylish, megapixel eyewear has proven the power of this proprietary architecture.

Innovega will provide the new system to media and consumer electronics OEMs who wish to design natural display interfaces that consumers want and need. Innovega believes that its new personal display interface will become an essential social media and entertainment accessory.

* Augmented Reality – Definition from “Wikipedia”: Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data … With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real-world of the user becomes interactive and digitally manipulatable. Artificial information about the environment and its objects can be overlaid on the real world.

 Way, way cool.  Stay tuned.
Thanks to Arya-Dragonqueen for the cool bionic eye image!

Preliminary Report Shows Stem Cells Reversed Macular Degeneration

This is crazy.  I just read a report in the journal The Lancet about a trial that’s taking place with embryonic stem cells and human subjects with macular degeneration.  The preliminary report actually shows that the patients have experienced some restoration of their vision.  Two patients are being utilized in this study – one with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy and one with dry age-related macular degeneration.  From the study:

Although there is little agreement between investigators on visual endpoints in patients with low vision, it is encouraging that during the observation period neither patient lost vision. Best corrected visual acuity improved from hand motions to 20/800 (and improved from 0 to 5 letters on the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study [ETDRS] visual acuity chart) in the study eye of the patient with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy, and vision also seemed to improve in the patient with dry age-related macular degeneration (from 21 ETDRS letters to 28).

Hey, did you hear?  Lemme just make sure that everybody heard:  STEM CELLS ARE BEING USED TO HELP RESTORE VISION AND ARE SHOWING SIGNS OF SUCCESS.  AWE-SOME!

OK – first, what is macular degeneration?  We’re basically talking about vision loss here that results from some sort of degeneration of the maculaThese two macular degeneration subjects have interesting vision deficiencies.  Presentation on Stargardt’s Dystrophy, from Wikipedia:

Those with Stargardt disease are sensitive to glare; overcast days offer some relief. Vision is most noticeably impaired when the macula (center of retina and focus of vision) is damaged, leaving peripheral vision more intact. Symptoms usually appear before age 20. Symptoms include wavy vision, blind spots, blurriness, impaired color vision, and difficulty adapting to dim lighting.  Some patients are able to drive. Many patients use magnifiers to help them see, and wear sunglasses to slow the development.

The other one, in this case, is a general dry age-related macular degeneration.  There are two kinds of this vision-killing degeneration, a wet kind and a dry kind:

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a medical condition which usually affects older adults and results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field (the macula) because of damage to the retina. It occurs in “dry” and “wet” forms. It is a major cause of blindness and visual impairment in older adults (>50 years). Macular degeneration can make it difficult or impossible to read or recognize faces, although enough peripheral vision remains to allow other activities of daily life.

Starting from the inside of the eye and going towards the back, the three main layers at the back of the eye are the retina, which contains the nerves; the choroid, which contains the blood supply; and the sclera, which is the white of the eye.

The macula is the central area of the retina, which provides the most detailed central vision.

In the dry (nonexudative) form, cellular debris called drusen accumulate between the retina and the choroid, and the retina can become detached. In the wet (exudative) form, which is more severe, blood vessels grow up from the choroid behind the retina, and the retina can also become detached. It can be treated with laser coagulation, and with medication that stops and sometimes reverses the growth of blood vessels.[1][2]

Although some macular dystrophies affecting younger individuals are sometimes referred to as macular degeneration, the term generally refers to age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD).

Age-related macular degeneration begins with characteristic yellow deposits (drusen) in the macula, between the retinal pigment epithelium and the underlying choroid. Most people with these early changes (referred to as age-related maculopathy) have good vision. People with drusen can go on to develop advanced AMD. The risk is considerably higher when the drusen are large and numerous and associated with disturbance in the pigmented cell layer under the macula. Recent research suggests that large and soft drusen are related to elevated cholesterol deposits and may respond to cholesterol-lowering agents.

Ok, now I’mma let you finish, Taylor Swift, but STEM CELLS ARE BEING USED TO HELP RESTORE VISION AND ARE SHOWING SIGNS OF SUCCESS.

Check out the original article at The Lancet.  Very, very cool news.

Thanks, Wikipedia, Wikipedia, and WebVision!

Tanya Vlach Wants to Grow A Bionic Eye

Tanya Vlach is looking for someone to help her invent a “bionic” eye that has a camera inside.  Watch this:

Tanya is looking for donors and engineers to help her create an experimental project featuring her prosthetic eye and a camera.  It sucks that she had to experience such tragedy in order to have this opportunity, but I have to say that I am inspired and excited to see how her project comes out.  If you’re interested in helping Tanya make her project come to life, please help her out over at Kickstarter.

Details from her Kickstarter page:

Before we get into the nitty gritty details of the eye camera, let’s back up a few years. In 2005, I was in a near death car accident. Centimeters away from death, I managed to pull through. Although grateful to be alive, I lost my left eye in the tumble and suffered frontal lobe minor brain injury and severe depression.

I entered the vast world of the Internet and chronicled my experiences on my blog, One-Eyed. I posted about new developments in technology that would help me regain sight. Soon I began envisioning a sci-fi plot twist to my predicament. I pitched my idea to Wired Founder Kevin Kelly. Intrigued, he posted my call out to engineers to help build an implant of a miniature camera inside my prosthetic eye. Immediately the idea went viral and I received hundreds of international engineering proposals, support from my  one-eyed community, and thousands of media inquiries. I became the media haven for transhumanism and the subject of controversy around engineering the body. Since then, I’ve been plotting new strategies to tell my story, both my personal one and the one of my sci-fi alter ego, into a transmedia platform, which will include: a graphic novel, an experimental documentary, a web series, a game, and a live performance. Grow a new eye – is about engineering a new bionic camera eye. 

This is an awesome story.  You need to go check out Tonya’s blog page, Eye, Tanya.  Let me know if you end up supporting the project in any way, leave a comment of support here for Tanya.  I really hope that this technology advances in a direction that helps for everyone.

My God, It’s Full of Stars! What You See When Your Eyes are Closed – Phosphenes

As much as I love light, I love to close my eyes and stare at the back of my eyelids.  Have you ever noticed how amazing, how beautiful the events that occur are when you rub your eyes and notice the instant star and explosion show that occurs in your vision?  I always imagine it as I’m looking into the birth of a universe – each time I stare at my eyelids I see little exploding stars that each take about 2-3 seconds to fully ignite, explode, and become part of the other stars waiting for me to focus my gaze on them.  Try it, it’s a lot of fun!  It is for me, at least.  Perhaps I’m nutso.  Still, AWESOME!

These little events are called entopic phenomena, meaning that they come directly from the eye itself.  I’m pretty sure everyone’s experienced the most common form of entopic phenomena, eye floaters.  Right?

 

Eye floaters, whether or not they have a sarcastic retort like the ones in Family Guy, are entopic phenomena.

The light that you see when you don’t see any light – whether it’s the random star birth and death that I see when I close my eyes, or if I rub my eyes, or any of a few things that trigger it for me – are called phosphenes.  That word is from two greek words, phos (light) and phainein (to show), and goes to explain most of the “hey there is light in my vision but there’s no source” mysteries.  The phrase “seeing stars,” like from getting whacked in the head or from being dizzy is phosphenic.  When people are deprived of light for long periods of time, phosphenes occur in the person’s vision as well – this is referred to as “the prisoner’s cinema.”  Isn’t that just creepy and horrible?  Apparently phosphenes can occur through several methods, from strong magnetic fiends, to just rubbing your eyes, to reports of astronauts seeing them when exposed to radiation in space.

Here’s a good account of the Prisoner’s Cinema, which also happens apparently to truck drivers, pilots, and other folk who have to concentrate on something for very long periods of time:

It has been widely reported that prisoners confined to dark cells often see brilliant light displays, which is sometimes called the “prisoner’s cinema.” Truck drivers also see such displays after staring at snow-covered roads for long periods, and pilots may experience phosphenes, especially when they are flying alone at high altitudes with a cloudless sky. In fact, whenever there is a lack of external stimuli, these displays can appear. They can also be made at will by simply pressing your fingertips against closed eyelids. In addition, they can also be produced by an electrical shock. In fact, reportedly, it was high fashion in the eighteenth century to have a phosphene party. It is noted that Benjamin Franklin once took part in such an encounter where a circle of people holding hands would be shocked by a high-voltage electrostatic generator, so that phosphenes were created each time the circuit was completed or broken.

The earliest account of phosphenes is given by the Bohemian physiologist Johannes Purkinje in 1819. These subjective images are called phosphenes (from the Greek phos, light, and phainein, to show). Oster (1970) suggests that, because phosphenes originate within the eye and the brain, they are a perceptual phenomenon common to all mankind. The visual areas of the brain at the back of the head (occipital lobe) can also be stimulated to produce phosphenes.

I find these very fascinating, these entropic events.  Do you have them?  How would you describe them?  Please, leave a message in the comments, I am very interested in your phosphene experiences!

Check out this beautiful video representation of phosphene events portrayed artistically.  So pretty!

Thanks to Wikipedia, and again, and Multiple Sclerosis Info, WiseGeek, MadSci, and MotiFake!   

How It’s Made – Contact Lenses!

I have to admit – I have never been able to stick a contact lens on my own eye.  Therefore, I just don’t try to wear them!

The process of making a contact lens is pretty neat, actually – 15 steps in total (minus a hydrating procedure that takes about a day) can be preformed in about 15-20 minutes total.  Pretty interesting!  The computerized, mechanized aspect of the contact lens manufacturing is exactly how you’d imagine it to be – extremely precise.

Check out this video from the How It’s Made (JimOnLight.com LIGHT related) series on making these contact lenses.  Very interesting!

Also, not to be outdone, the making of SPECTACLES!

OH GOD, THEY TATTOOED THEIR EYEBALLS

So last night I was lying in bed looking at the news, and all of the sudden I click on something that to me read as “prison inmates tattoo eyeballs.”  What it actually was completely shocked me, so I figured, hey – I bet JimOnLight readers would LOVE this (or totally despise it), so I should certainly post about it.

The video below depicts nothing about the actual performing of the subject matter, just the results, but it’s still freaky.

These prison inmates tattooed the sclera of their eyeballs!  Can you believe that?!  How were they sure that they were only injecting that “ink” into their sclera only? I mean, under the right circumstances and on your skin tattoos can and usually do look pretty neat.  But your EYE?  Don’t they know how important that is?!  There is a reason that people who sustain damage to their eyes or even a single eye lose their vision – to my knowledge, we cannot manufacture or generate vitreous gel for the eye.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Holy cow.  The second subject interviewed in the film is in prison for 73 years, so more than likely he doesn’t have to worry about ever having non-prison employment again – but the other guy (the one with the red eyes) is in for 4 years.  Both of these men are going to have disciplinary action taken against them.

The subject said that they have no color tint in their vision, and that they still see fine. For now. I wonder what was in that “ink” they used.

Watch the video:

TED Talks: Beau Lotto, The Eyes, and The Power of Reality

Have you ever heard of the TED Talks?  TED Talks are lectures from remarkable people in the world, and they’re all free.  The best thing about the TED talks is that not only are they free (like all helpful and inspiring ideas should be) but they are actually something that gives you insight into the mind of someone truly interested in improving the world.

As you can imagine, something that deals with light and that is inspiring is of great interest to me.  I just found a great TED talk – perfect for your Friday morning in the office or at home sipping that first (or second, I suppose, at least in my case) cup of coffee.  Meet Beau Lotto – he’s a guy who is shedding light onto the long time mystery of the brain’s complex visual system.  From TED’s website about why you should watch this video:

“Let there be perception,” was evolution’s proclamation, and so it was that all creatures, from honeybees to humans, came to see the world not as it is, but as was most useful. This uncomfortable place — where what an organism’s brain sees diverges from what is actually out there — is what Beau Lotto and his team at Lottolab are exploring through their dazzling art-sci experiments and public illusions. Their Bee Matrix installation, for example, places a live bee in a transparent enclosure where gallerygoers may watch it seek nectar in a virtual meadow of luminous Plexiglas flowers. (Bees, Lotto will tell you, see colors much like we humans do.) The data captured isn’t just discarded, either: it’s put to good use in probing scientific papers, and sometimes in more exhibits.

Outside the studio work, the brain-like (that is, multidisciplinary) organization is also branching out to bigger public engagement works. It’s holding regular “synesthetic workshops” where kids and adults make “color scores” — abstract paintings that computers interpret into music, as with scrolls fed to a player piano. And lately they’re planning an outdoor walkway of color-lit, pressure-sensitive John Conway-esque tiles that react and evolve according to foot traffic. These and Lotto’s other conjurings are slowly, charmingly bending the science of perception — and our perceptions of what science can be.

Lotto teaches at University College London.

“All his work attempts to understand the visual brain as a system defined, not by its essential properties, but by its past ecological interactions with the world. In this view, the brain evolved to see what proved useful to see, to continually redefine normality.”

British Science Association

Ok, the video is more than five minutes, but it is an investment in intelligence. Check it out:

Make sure to check out some of TED’s other lectures (well worth the time), and definitely check out Beau’s laboratory, Lotto Lab.

TAKE THAT, Retina! Fovea THIS!

Hey, you wanna see the inside of my eye?  No, really.  The inside of my eye.

I’M SERIOUS!

Check it out:

right-color-jimonlight

That’s the freaking inside of my right eye – you’re looking at my right retina, optic nerve, macula, and fovea – and a ton of vessels in the background and foreground.  Obviously by now you’ve determined that the tree looking things in the bottom of the picture are my eyelashes.  Check it out in black and white – around the macula you can see a weird pattern or reflection of some kind – it looks like a lizard eye staring at you!

Oh, is that just me? [awkward]

right-bw-jimonlight

Do you know what the heck I’m talking about?  Fovea, macula, retina, etcetera?

If you know all of this already, I am glad to tell you again!

The retina is easy – it’s the large part in the picture.  The retina is the back of your eyeball, which contains the light and color receptors (rods and cones, respectively) that the brain uses to tell what’s going on visually.  It has blood vessels and stuff like that wound into it so that it can get food and oxygen to the parts of the eye that need it.

The macula and fovea are an interesting part of your eye.  When you hear of “macular degeneration” and people having problems with their visual focus, this is often something to be considered.  Check out the left eye – the macula is the spot in the picture below that looks like a violin body, or the mark on the thorax of a Black Widow spider, kind-of.  Inside of that is the fovea, which is the central point of focus in our vision:

left-zoom-fovea-jimonlight

and even better in black and white:

left-bw-zoom-fovea-jimonlight

That thing – the fovea – it’s a dip in the retina filled with rod and cone cells, and the center of it is the concentration of human visual acuity, or focus.  Around half of the information the optic nerve carries to the brain is from the fovea.  The detailed vision spot – when it is damaged, focus goes away.  The bright spot is the optic nerve going to the brain, sending messages of everything you see.

The macula is the kind-of yellow-y area surrounding the fovea and containing the fovea – the fovea is essentially the center of the macula.

I always equated the process of sending the images from the eye to the brain like sending a RAW file.

Check out a color shot of my left eye:

left-color-jimonlight

followed by the black and white:

left-BW-jimonlight

Here’s another term – ischemia.  This is a reason to lose weight and be healthy for anyone.  An ischemia is a complete lack of blood flow to a portion of the body, and that starved portion dies.  Here’s a little game I’ll play – somewhere in one of my eyes I have an ischemia from an old high blood pressure episode.  Think you know what it looks like?  The first person between now and December 31 who correctly locates the ischemia, I’ll send you a $10 Amazon gift certificate.  You have to highlight the ischemia in one of the pictures in this post and email me your guess.

The human body is full of wonder, isn’t it?

The Kruithof Curve – Color Temperature VS Illuminance

KRUITHOF_CURVE

Have you ever heard of the Kruithof Curve?

Back in the early 1940’s when fluorescent sources were beginning to affect the way we thought about light and color rendering, a scientist that worked for Philips named Arie Andries Kruithof performed some informal tests on how the human eye relates the amount of light in a given time of day to the color temperature of the light source.  Typically, human beings like higher color temperature light sources during the daytime hours, and lower color temperature sources once the sun goes down.  People in warmer climates tend to favor cooler color temperature sources, and people in colder climates like warmer light.  It seems pretty intuitive, yes?

Is this an official guaranteed works-for-every-human-on-earth standard?  Of course not.  Everyone is different.  Eastern societies have different preferences than Western societies.  But – and this is a general but – there is a correlation between the amount of light from a light source (lux) and the color temperature of the light source (degrees Kelvin) that seems to be fairly common among us all in most situations.  This is the research that culminated in A. A. Kruithof’s color temperature VS illuminance curve, as seen above.  Kruithof was working on visually pleasing light sources, and was interested in how adjusting the amount of light altered the amount of illumination needed to maintain a pleasing sense to the human eye.

The rods and cones in the human eye work together, and once the amount of illumination reaches a certain low or high point, the rods (intensity sensors) lead the visual information to the brain.  At night, when dusk conditions occur, you might notice that most of the colors in your view tend to be monochromatic, usually blue – this has to do with the low level of illumination, and a phenomenon referred to as the Purkinje Effect.  The Purkinje Effect tries to explain why our brain switches to scotopic vision at dusk when illumination levels are very low, and color rendering is poor – as the brightness of the day decreases, the vibrancy of reds goes away a lot faster than the vibrancy of blues in our vision.

We might have some almost built-in tendencies towards color temperature and light levels – perhaps somehow tied to the cycles of the sun and our circadian cycles.  We might have a tendency to associate warm colors with fire light at night, and we might associate higher color temperatures with the mid-day illumination levels from the sun.  Who really knows.  Kruithof gave it a try, and the curve is what he determined.

The two sources in the graph are the color temperature of Western/Northern Europe at mid-day (D65), and a 2700 Kelvin MR-16 tungsten-halogen source, for reference.

Thanks, ArchLighting and SoLux!