Yesterday’s press conference at the Institute for Optometry showcased a step-change innovation in health care, but it must have sent shivers down the spines of the optometric profession.
PicPerfect, a spin-off from Google’s Picasa photo-editing software business, showed off twenty patients who had their eyesight dramatically improved through an in-body chip downloaded with the firm’s active sight enhancement ASE software.
“Active in-body chips are now common, and we know that the eye is an amazing data capturing system,” said a PicPerfect executive. “All we have done is use the existing platforms to enable our software to enhance the messages sent from the eyes to the visual cortex in our brains.”
“For many people world-wide this will mean that they will never have to wear glasses – no spectacles again ever!”
And that’s not all; in future, we will be able to interface directly with experimental retinoid contact lenses placed on the corneas of blind eyes or eyes damaged from severe trauma or disease – again bypassing the eye and linking directly with the brain.
A new competitor, Varilux, promises something similar, even without an in-body chip.
“Optometrists and eye specialists will be able to re-program parts of the visual cortex by simply placing two iSense pads on the back of a patient’s head for 14 seconds.”
Their slogan is: “Natural vision. Forever.” Nice.
In fact, PicPerfect does what many of us have been doing with Picasa or Photoshop for years, except this time the software can be used to enhance what we see, in real-time. You can choose to ‘sharpen’, ‘sepia’ or ‘warmify’ your vision, down to the finest levels of control of the ‘picture area’.
The opportunities for visual enhancement, and beyond to brand new ‘entertainment’ experiences are profound.
“Version 2 will see the integration of visual recognition – so you will never again be in the embarrassing position of not remembering someone’s name. Floating text on the periphery of your sight will simply inform you of a person’s name.”
And of course, it’s all integrated into your Facebook profile and friends.