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Filmmaker Working On Eye-Socket Camera 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-two-they're-small dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Wired has a story about Rob Spence, a Canadian filmmaker who plans to have a mini camera installed in his prosthetic eye. 'A camera module will have to be connected to a transmitter inside the prosthetic eye that can broadcast the captured video footage. To boost the signal, he says he can wear another transmitter on his belt. A receiver attached to a hard drive in a backpack could capture that information and then send it to another device that uploads everything to a web site in real time. ... Even though his project is still in its early stages, Spence says many people have already told him they wouldn't be comfortable being filmed. "People are more scared of a center-left documentary maker with an eye than the 400 ways they are filmed every day at the school, the subway, the mall," he says. He hopes he will help get people thinking about privacy, how surveillance cameras and the footage they record are being used and accessed.'" Spence runs a blog for the 'Eyeborg Project,' as he calls it, and has recently posted a video about the progress they're making.
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Filmmaker Working On Eye-Socket Camera

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  • Back to the future (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alain94040 (785132) * on Friday March 06, 2009 @08:11PM (#27100177) Homepage

    I always believed that 20 years from now, technology will allow us to keep a constant record of all that we see. It will be great for keeping memories of the kids, sure. It will also completely change the way we interact. The most fascinating part of this future is that very strong ethical, privacy and legal limits will have to be put in place.

    Think of the switch from analog audio to digital. With analog, you could record, but you couldn't store forever without losing quality. Stuff eventually got lost, or forgotten. It's a different ball-game when information stays around forever, easily accessible. Google Search taught us as much.

    Bottom line: there is no technological answer to this, it will have to come from principles and laws. Anyone can steal mail from my mailbox, there is no lock. But people don't. Let's see how we can create similar principles for digital information.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      will allow us to keep a constant record of all that we see.

      Except for sex and the occasional witness of a police beating, all I can envision from that is a bastard-child of Twitter and YouTube...as if those two weren't bad enough.

      Why not mount enhancements(IR or other extended-spectrum sensitivity, long-range zoom, etc) inside the prosthesis and find a way to feed the visual back into the other eye(and eventually to the visual cortex itself) to give the patient superhuman sight? Now we're talkin', baby.

      • Because he is unable to move/focus the prosthetic.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MadnessASAP (1052274)

          You can definetly move a prosthetic eye, focus is a different matter but I suspect it would be one of the easier things to do given that it's just a matter of finding which nerve went too the muscle.

          • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

            by icebike (68054)

            >You can definetly move a prosthetic eye,

            Apparently not well enough for touch typing...

          • by EkriirkE (1075937)
            Focus would not be a matter of muscle, the eye is not connected to the nerve. Fixed focus isn't so bad (think phone cam), and (electromechanical) auto focus is easily implemented in such a confine
          • by mikael (484)

            Digital cameras have auto-focus - so that shouldn't be so difficult to implement in a small eyeball cam.

      • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:16PM (#27100785)

        a bastard-child of Twitter and YouTube

        YouTwit? Twitube?

      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by kwantar (1398143)
        This has already been done. Haven't you ever heard of the Six Million Dollar Man?
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        will allow us to keep a constant record of all that we see.

        Except for sex and the occasional witness of a police beating, all I can envision from that is a bastard-child of Twitter and YouTube...as if those two weren't bad enough.

        Then you're not very imaginative.

        I would use it all the time. Can't remember how that thing you just took apart goes back together? Rewind and take a look. Can't remember if you locked the door/turned off the stove/flushed the toilet? Rewind and take a look. Got lost? Rewind and retrace your steps.

        • by gnapster (1401889)

          This reminds me of The Machine [strangehorizons.com] , by Joey Comeau. It's a short story about a world where a historian has made a machine which records the position of every molecule on earth, continuously. One can go back and view historical events. It gets awkwardly recursive, though, when you go back to view times when you were viewing previous times.

          Suppose, for instance, that you are trying to put together that thing you just took apart, and a spring flies off. You can't find it, so you rewind to see whether it fl

          • You haven't seen "Primer", have you? It's the first movie (about time travel) that I needed a scientific paper (linked from the IMDB FAQ) to understand.

            Although it makes much more sense than any other time-traveling movie ever made.

    • by EkriirkE (1075937)

      ...It will be great for keeping memories of the kids, sure...

      I was thinking more that it would be great to replay excellent experiences as porn for "me-time".

    • Anyone can steal mail from my mailbox, there is no lock. But people don't. Let's see how we can create similar principles for digital information.

      Principles, hell. If you're in the U.S., the reason people don't steal your mail is because a. they probably don't give a damn and b. interfering with the mail is a felony. No real principles involved there: it's just that nobody wants to go to jail for reading someone else's junk mail. I'm not really sure that reading someone's email should invoke the same sort of penalties.

      • Years ago I lived in an apartment that used the large locked communal type box. The kind where each home has a different lock, but the mailman has one lock on his side. Well, it turns out they used one key for the mailman's side for the whole damn city and someone got a hold of that key. I had no idea my mail had been stolen until a month or so later the police dropped off a bunch of mail that they said they found when they raided some house and it became a big news story. I didn't have any problems with id

        • So just because someone hasn't stolen the OP's mail yet, doesn't actually mean it is safe.

          I didn't mean to imply that it was ... obviously, the fact that we make interfering with the post a serious crime indicates that it is a potential problem. I'm just saying that I don't believe that extending those same standards to the Internet is automatically a good idea.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      That's not impossible now. You could record all that you see with current technology. A wearable camera, or even eyeglasses with a built in camera could record everything. (these already exist) and then you'd just dump the recordings to a hard drive or other storage medium on a regular basis, perhaps daily.

      You can get a one terabyte hard drive for under $100. A couple of those could record an entire year of video at reasonable SDTV quality using mpeg4-avc. Broadcast quality SDTV is not too bad at
      • I was actually surprised to run a few numbers and discover you were right. My immediate response was to think that there's no way a couple TB could contain that much video.

        Then I looked at my videos and realized that, on average, my SDTV footage compressed down to about 10 minutes per 100 MB, which gives approximately 70 days of footage on a single TB drive. 5 of them could hold approximately an entire year's worth of footage.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rubycodez (864176)

      yeah, yeah, I saw the "Final Cut". the guy gets killed for what he's got in his head

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:16PM (#27101319)

      Bottom line: there is no technological answer to this, it will have to come from principles and laws. Anyone can steal mail from my mailbox, there is no lock. But people don't. Let's see how we can create similar principles for digital information.

      It is not going to happen. The reason people don't steal from your mailbox is NOT "principles and laws" it is because generally there isn't anything worth stealing and it is hard to do on a large scale. When it is easy to do on a large scale and there is something of value, then people do steal your mail - for example, new credit cards were routinely stolen in bulk at postal centers until the banks made "activation" from a confirmed phone number a requirement (and even then, the crooks came up with ways around that, changing the phone numbers on file to phone numbers they controlled).

      So as long as there is something valuable and it is easy to take with little chance of being punished for it, then no amount of laws or principles will make a bit of difference. (Which, some readers may have noticed applies just as much to the effectiveness of copyright law as it does to any laws regulating the use of digital cameras by the public at large.)

    • replay up peoples rears will be like shit hitting the fanny, like a "HOLE NEW FORM" for "analog", and the upshot of the imprint will a lot of uncomfortable negatives to dislodge.

      It will have people tripping and reeling so much it'll take several genetic mutations to overcome the shift, and, then, we can all hail, "The anal log is the new ear drum".

    • by RyoShin (610051) <[tukaro] [at] [gmail.com]> on Saturday March 07, 2009 @01:31AM (#27102437) Homepage Journal

      The most fascinating part of this future is that very strong ethical, privacy and legal limits will have to be put in place.

      I think something else will happen.

      I think society will change.

      Speaking strictly for American society (though I fully expect the same to happen in other first-world countries, though perhaps at different rates), we've long had various scruples that, while perhaps not bad, don't make the most sense. For instance, the general requirement that we remain clothed; or, in a more tame sense, that men may go bare-chested but women may not (add to that further with much of women's fashion). There are reasons to wear clothes, but shame for the human body has always been an odd one. Also, it's perfectly fine (by society) to talk about someone behind their back, but never to tell someone they're bad/ugly and give constructive criticism. Who cares if you're helping someone out with that (whether or not they want the help), you should be talking about it to someone who can't do squat like some sort of weasel!

      As television has brought us pictures of war sooner and sooner, and VHS everything else, we began to become more and more "open" about things. The internet has only increased this, as well as allowing for amateur footage of... well, everything.

      I think that instead of all these huge restrictions being put on such devices, society's view will shift as it is further exposed. There will be a brief push-back, but that will subside. Over time, people will become more and more relaxed about various subjects and previous "taboos". We saw it happen with black rights, women's rights, and interracial marriage. Right now we're seeing it happen with homosexuality and marijuana.

      There's always the chance of another Roman-style (or was it Greek?) tragedy happening where we suddenly regress a millennium, but if we continue the path we are bound to become a society that has almost no social bounds outside of actual harm. Perhaps not in 20 years, and maybe not even in 100, but I believe it will happen, especially if content expands exponentially.

      • by Selivanow (82869)

        It is funny that you mentioned toplessness (sp?). In New York it is legal for women to be topless in public. However, i have yet to see one in public. Although, my wife has told me that she has. Maybe this is because women do not wish to be ogled at more than they are now.

        • by RyoShin (610051)

          If things change as I hope to, the idea of lust won't be as deeply ingrained, because it will be far more open; looking at any naked woman would be like looking at the Venus de Milo, plus arms.

          There are other changes afoot, forced by technology, such as the idea of ownership thanks to digital rights. This will start coming into the real world as 3D printers get better and better and can churn out anything with enough schematics. Once we have some sort of replicator, all ideas of property ownership will b

    • You've always believed this? Wait, how old are you? Right... you're at least older than 20, so then if you've always believed that 20 years from when you first started believing it that we'd have all have persistent video, then that would mean we already have it!? What are you hiding? What secret online store [spook-accessories-r.us] do I have to visit to get it? Do I gotta be a spook and have some security clearance, or be secretly enslaved to the CIA [imdb.com] once I have it?

  • pirate ! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cats-paw (34890)

    I guess this will get him banned from movie theaters, right ?

    • Re:pirate ! (Score:4, Funny)

      by Chabo (880571) on Friday March 06, 2009 @08:27PM (#27100349) Homepage Journal

      It won't get him banned, but if he doesn't implement DRM, then the movie theater will aim lasers at his prosthetic eye for the duration of the movie so he can't get a good recording.

      • If he is listening to the J. Geils Band's "Freeze Frame"...

        Such an endowed person could scope out sex workers (of any persuasion) and then people observing his conquest could say, en Espan~nol "He, ho, layyyy"

        But, then such a guy could reply, "Aye yaye yaye..."

        As for the comment about the eye being able to move, i'd say that's not a real problem. It's the lack of adjacent muscle normality. If the eye swivels, maybe kids won't be shocked or unnerved. But, if the nutates like a gravity/anti-gravity-challenged

      • It won't get him banned, but if he doesn't implement DRM, then the movie theater will aim lasers at his prosthetic eye for the duration of the movie so he can't get a good recording.

        And if he does it again, they'll point the lasers at his other eye.

    • Re:pirate ! (Score:4, Informative)

      by heretic108 (454817) on Friday March 06, 2009 @08:34PM (#27100419)

      Or they'll only let him in if he's wearing a certified eye patch, arrr arrr!

    • by davidsyes (765062) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:07PM (#27100705) Homepage Journal

      So, if he captures a crime in progress, the criminals (if they recognize him) can hurl all sorts of puns his way:

      Eye of the beholder
      Socket too me
      An eye for an eye...
      See, if you had that camera in your ass or fannypack, hindsight would be 20/20

      Depending on the focal length he uses, if he fixates on breasts, will he be a living boob tube? Titty-gazing could, like, oh my god... soooo tubular...

      If he sees two rogue law enforcement officers beating on a civilian, he could sing "EYE SHOT THE SHERRIF, but EYE didn't SHOOT THE DEPUTY..."

      There may be a new law: DCMA

      "Don't Capture Me, Aye!" (especially since he's Canadian...)

      If he sees a SUUUUUPER ugly person, they may crack his lens.

      If they put smoke and mirrors in his path, he could be blinded with science.

      If he's in a room with flash-bangs and smoke grenades, he'll be "bedazzled and frazzled"

      If his good eye goes out, and he's broadsided, it could be said he was blind-sided...

      Would he go crazy if swimming with fisheye lens goggles?

      I suppose much of this assumes he as a neuro-optical data link.... and can process the imagery. Hopefully he won't be a cross between Geordi (super barrettes) La Forge and Saul (Demon Eyes) Tigh...

      But, if he's visious, and lays eyes on you, you'd be caught in the eye of the tiger...

      Yeh, i'm on a ROLL (but not a film roll)... LOL!

      • by kitezh (1442937)

        There may be a new law: DCMA

        "Don't Capture Me, Aye!" (especially since he's Canadian...)

        I think you mean the DMCE, eh. Unless he's French Canadian, then it's "Oeil, Don't Capture Me!"

      • by AGMW (594303)
        See, if you had that camera in your ass or fannypack, hindsight would be 20/20

        Of course _this_ side of the pond fanny means something else entirely, and may provide for the epithet "looking up old friends".

        Do I win a t-shirt?

  • He's upgrading.
  • babylon 5 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by v1 (525388) on Friday March 06, 2009 @08:14PM (#27100205) Homepage Journal

    been there done that

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosthetics_in_fiction [wikipedia.org]

    • Re:babylon 5 (Score:4, Informative)

      by Daffy Duck (17350) on Friday March 06, 2009 @08:28PM (#27100359) Homepage

      Predated by a couple of decades in "Journey to the Far Side of the Sun". Herbert Lom has a spy camera in his fake eye to elude a full-body security search.

      • by smoker2 (750216)
        Heh, yeah right. It never cease to amaze me how people expect rapid technological advancement, when all the historical evidence shows that most of these innovations are decades old, but the equipment wasn't available back then. I saw a photo from the first V2s sent up with a camera yesterday on NASAs site [nasa.gov], and that was dated 1948. How long until Google Earth hit the mainstream ? 2005 ? The reason for the delay was computing power, access to images, and satellites. Satellites have changed the world in so man
    • by maxume (22995)

      What you mean is that someone thought of it. It wasn't quite done.

      • by fractoid (1076465)
        GP must be a mathematician.

        "Ah, this problem is provably solvable!" *goes off to the pub*
  • I record everything I see.

    The only difference is that I use an organic data storage device.

    • by Chabo (880571)

      Unfortunately, well over 90% of the data gets lost due to a buggy caching policy... :/

      Don't worry though, it's on the TODO list in a future release.

      • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:28PM (#27100905)

        I said I RECORD everything I see.

        I didn't say I have access to it later!

        I'm getting the sneaking suspicion my wife does though.

        • by nasch (598556)

          How do you know you record everything if you don't have access to it later?

          • by tepples (727027)

            How do you know you record everything if you don't have access to it later?

            There are plenty of ways that I reconstruct an eviction log, or to "know that I forgot" something. One of them is inbound links to an expired memory from my other memories. Another is memories that have been reduced to sketchy "stubs" once their details have expired.

            • by nasch (598556)

              I understood the last sentence, but it doesn't prove you recorded everything. Once the details have expired, you can't tell if you ever had them or not. I don't know what "inbound links to an expired memory" are. You can definitely know that you used to know something and have forgotten it, but that is very different from knowing that you used to know everything you've ever seen, and have forgotten it.

              I was being kind of tongue in cheek along with the rest of the conversation, but it's very well known th

  • Imagine the possibilities for this sort of technology... in porn.
    • by dangitman (862676)
      Yeah, you'd better imagine them, because porn will remain the same old crap, no matter how good the technology is. It's funny how this idea comes up over and over again - "amazing new porn technology" and yet it still features the same old bad acting, fake situations and poor camerawork. I mean, the technology for good porn has been around since Shakespeare, but it rarely gets implemented.
  • by PalmHair (1222728) on Friday March 06, 2009 @08:19PM (#27100263)
    Dear Rob, maybe people feel uncomfortable because your eye gives a red glow and you keep telling them "See you later!" in Spanish with a heavy Austrian accent.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    are usually somewhere to the left of Fidel Castro.
  • I don't think the guy is thinking about Saccades [wikipedia.org]

    These are tiny, quick movements that the eye makes that keep "refreshing" our field of view.

    Here's the explanation from Wikipedia:

    Humans and other animals do not look at a scene in a steady way. Instead, the eyes move around, locating interesting parts of the scene and building up a mental 'map' corresponding to the scene. One reason for saccades of the human eye is that the central part of the retina, the fovea, plays a critical role in resolving objects. By moving the eye so that small parts of a scene can be sensed with greater resolution, body resources can be used more efficiently.

    In addition, the human eye is in a constant state of vibration, oscillating back and forth at a rate of about 30-70 Hz. These microsaccades are tiny movements, roughly 20 arcseconds in excursion and are completely imperceptible under normal circumstances. They serve to refresh the image being cast onto the rod cells and cone cells at the back of the eye. Without microsaccades, staring fixedly at something would cause the vision to cease after a few seconds since rods and cones only respond to a change in luminance.

    So while this happens naturally in all of our eyes, our brains compensate for it automatically and we don't notice anything is happening.

    On video, though, this would probably make the video unwatchable and/or cause dizziness and nausea for anyone viewing it. It might be help in researching eye-movement patterns, though.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      I don't think artificial eyes saccade.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by LingNoi (1066278)

      I smell a sequel to cloverfield!

    • He's not installing this into an eye that actually provides him with eyesight. We're talking about putting a glass eye with a camera in it into an empty eyesocket.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward


        He's not installing this into an eye that actually provides him with eyesight. We're talking about putting a glass eye with a camera in it into an empty eyesocket.

        So the question is, does his good eye saccading cause the artificial eye to move too.

    • by fractoid (1076465)
      Basically our eyes work the same way as reptiles' (or as those of hookers in Family Guy) and are based on movement. They just happen to include active scanning to refresh their view even of objects which aren't moving.

      I'm sure you could process out the saccades using the same basic image stabilization technology that's used in all but the cheapest digital cameras these days. Then again, why do that when you can use them to your advantage? Mimic the eye's structure with a super-high-rez 'fovea' plus a low
  • Putting a radio transmitter right next to your brain!
  • "Steve Austin, a man barely alive ... we have the technology, we can rebuild him."
  • by dangitman (862676) on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:19PM (#27101339)
    This story has three icons attached to it, but not one of them is the "Bill Gates with Borg eye" one. C'mon, this was the perfect oppportunity to use that icon, and you blew it, slashdot!
  • The Japanese anime "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex" dealt with "interceptors" which were in-eye cameras. This was back in 2002.
  • A camera is a camera, the only difference is if it's considered a hidden camera. If you were trying to film people in public, then go for it, it's public. On the other hand, you try filming in my house without my consent, you're going to have a whole lot of trouble.
  • "People are more scared of a center-left documentary maker with an eye than the 400 ways they are filmed every day at the school, the subway, the mall."

    Well, yeah. That's because, at the mall, (1) it's a terrible picture, (2) there is no audio, (3) they have so much footage of everybody that nobody's going to find that shot of you with your finger up your nose, and (4) even if they do, they're not going to publish it because they want you to come BACK to the store, and don't want to get sued for big buck

    • by Haeleth (414428)

      Really, you can sum it up like this:

      Mall surveillance is not being published on a public website in real time.

  • by nanospook (521118) on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:58PM (#27101595)
    If I was going to wear a small hidden camera, I would attach it to the end of my index finger and transmit it to a set of glasses so I can see what it sees. Think of the uses.. 1. You can see around corners 2. Look up a gal's skirt 3. Read with your finger 4. Pick your nose and put it on youtube 5. film yourself sleeping 6. Experience Sign Language in a fresh way The possibilities are endless..
  • Wow, this is a little spooky. Just saw the preview for next week's Dollhouse, and it looks like they'll be using something very similar to this...

    Dan Aris

  • It'll be easy to add colored filters or polarization or similar - just choose the appropriate pair of shades...

    Could even use glasses with a built in display to add night vison for the other eye...

  • Director, producer and writer Rolf de Heer sort of did this with sound using a a binaural headset.
    The stereo focus of the sound recording moves with the actor's head, recording voice and breathing.
    Now it can be done with sight.

    http://archive.sensesofcinema.com/contents/04/31/sound_design_rolf_de_heer.html [sensesofcinema.com]
  • This seems like it would need a crazy amount of image stabilization. When an image is focused and static on the retina, it (fairly quickly) fades from perception. There are microscopic tremors that keep the eye jostling about and the picture 'refreshed'. I'm curious about how these impact the cameras ability to focus and keep a decent picture.

  • I wonder how this will impact his sexual life... might have a hard time convincing some partners... "I will keep my left eye shut, promised!"
    • by mikechant (729173)

      "I will keep my left eye shut, promised!"

      Naah. Just say "Hang on babe, I'll just remove my left eye and put it away in this draw so we can have some privacy...". That'll have her drooling!

    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      Wouldn't that defeate the purpose of a hidden camera?

  • Privacy nightmare? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by meist3r (1061628) on Saturday March 07, 2009 @02:17AM (#27102617)
    Not for our new bionic overlord but for everyone he sees on an every day basis. Will he be forced to wear one of those full-body signs saying "I'm filming you as we speak" or does he just wink when someone wants to stay anonymous? There's no way he can ask anyone for the right to take their image w/o consent!?
  • To up-skirting.

  • Not sure if this refers to his politics or the camera's vantage point.
  • they are filmed every day

    Now, first, dumb as a shoelace. Surveillance camera feeds are not posted on websites for everyone to see, no law allows that, at least in countries I'd be comfortable living in. In very many cases those feeds aren't een recorded. In some other cases the feeds are recorded for a specific amount of time (i.e. 24-48-... hours) and then automatically overwritten. There are - or at least legally should be - no places where every feed's recordings could be retained forever, or disclos
  • TV shows will make great use of it... The ultimate of reality TV!

    In 1973, D.G. Compton published an excellent sci-fi novel, The Unsleeping Eye or The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe, about a TV show in which a terminally ill woman will be filmed until her death. This will draw a huge audience in a world where almost all diseases can be cured. The woman runs away after signing the contract and a journalist with a camera implanted in his eye will arrange to locate her and, impersonating a compassionate l
  • People are more scared of a center-left documentary maker with an eye than the 400 ways they are filmed every day at the school

    And that's fairly rational, too: the privacy implications and usage of security cameras are much more predictable than those of a filmmaker running around with a bionic eye.

  • I suspect his wife will soon leave him. If she's anything at all like my wife, anyway. She hates nothing more than to be proven wrong about anything, and all too often she remembers things differently than the way they actually happened. To have a record of everything and be able to prove her wrong every time would make her want to murder me in my sleep.
  • "People are more scared of a center-left documentary maker with an eye than the 400 ways they are filmed every day at the school, the subway, the mall," he says.

    Show me a security camera that editorializes, splices in out-of-context content, and chooses to show only the material that supports its position and then he might have a point.

  • This man must be found, and harassed by several wearers of Guy Fawkes masks. Also, Rick Roll'd. The internet will collapse on itself.
  • ...."I'll keep an eye out for you"

Swap read error. You lose your mind.

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