Whether you’re frightened or excited by the idea of Big Data implanting a “health tracking” device in your brain, you may want to sit down for this one: Synthetic eyeballs may be in our near future. MHOX, a “generative design” studio based in Italy, has proposed a concept for synthetic eyeballs that could be produced with a 3D printer and come with an intriguing range of functions.
Of course, scientists working with 3D printers have already been able to produce ears, kidneys, blood vessels, skin grafts, and even bones. Eyes likely haven’t been proposed yet because they’re so uniquely complex among human organs, but MHOX biodesigners want to be the first to bioprint synthetic eyeballs. And not just any synthetic eyeballs – these come fully loaded with near Inspector Gadget-level functionality.
Creating artificially enhanced eyeballs
According to MHOX’s website, the studio “develops body extensions, objects or systems that integrate the human body to mutate its aesthetic and functional potential,” and they appear to be pulling out all the stops with their EYE (“Enhance Your Eye”) concept.
“This project is based on the idea of augmenting the sight sense, increasing the functionalities of the eye with ones currently handled by other body segments or external devices,” reads the EYE page.
MHOX plans to release three different models of EYE: EYE Heal, EYE Enhance, and EYE Advance. EYE Heal will cure blindness, diseases of the eye, trauma, and sight deterioration. EYE Enhance will allow owners of the synthetic eyes to have 15/10 vision – even sharper than 20/20. EYE Enhance even wants to give the iPhone camera a run for its money: It will feature a camera and allow users to swallow different pills to activate various filters. Finally, EYE Advance comes with a wi-fi modem – also activated by swallowing a pill – that will let users upload their black-and-white filtered videos into the cloud for all to see.
“This project is a concept design based on an intuitive vision of how existing technologies might evolve,” Lead Designer Filippo Nasetti told Dezeen Magazine. “We forecast that bioprinting and biohacking would have made impressive advances by 2027.”
But before you sign up, a bit of fine print: Once you cough up the cash for EYE, you’ll need to have the eyes your mother gave you surgically removed and replaced with what MHOX is calling a “deck:” an artificial retina that connects the synthetic eye to the brain. “After that,” says the MHOX website, “augmented eyes can be easily interchanged by their own users without the need of additional surgery.”
That last bit is enough to keep me from being first in line to review them, but many are sure to be on the lookout for the latest developments on this interesting project.