Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Canadian Press does Eyeborg story

Story here.

Toronto filmmaker plans to use prosthetic eye camera for documentary

Big Brother is watching — and so is Little Brother.
Toronto filmmaker Rob Spence says he is getting a tiny video camera put inside a prosthetic eye to allow him to secretly film his subjects.

Spence says his goal is twofold: to raise awareness of constant surveillance in society and to get people talking unself-consciously.

Friday, December 12, 2008

George Orwell's old house surrounded by CCTV cameras!

This is so ironic its tiresome almost. I guess that's one of the problems I have selling the idea for this documentary. Even my reaction is a bit ho-hum, for God's sakes we have heard it all before. Yes, yes, we are turning into a Big Brother society. But, like, we are.

Story is here.

In case you aren't familiar with my other posts one of the main points of my film, Eye 4 an Eye (previous post about that here) is to examine how we are sleepwalking into an over-monitored Orwellian society. Am I a part of the problem or part of the solution if I get a camera-eye? Perhaps if I get you thinking about it more its the latter.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cuz sent me an eye-tune -Oh Montreal

This fresh in my from my Cuz (Cuz=cousin) - who is now the official tune supplier for He will supply appropriately eye-ish/cyborg-y songs that are good listening. Hey, trust me, Cuz knows his tunes. His eye-dentity I am afraid must remain secret for now.

So anyways, this just in from Cuz....

Cuz: "I'm deeming this the best track of the year. It is a long one, but soooo addictive, and no they are not from's an almost full version."

The lyrics mention "story of the eye". Sounds deep....
According to the lyrics, his wife and daughter had just left him. Ouch.

Thursday, December 4, 2008 does story on Eyeborg

Bionic Eyes and Restoring Vision

A lot of people ask me if I am going to restore vision with my Bionic Eye. The answer is no, not right now but maybe later.

I am not restoring vision, I'm just modifying my prosthetic eye into a video camera with the same capabilities as a modern cell phone. I can stream the footage, save it to a hard-drive, or put it in my documentary film called Eye 4 an Eye.

Having one eye is almost as good as having two. Its not really that different except my squash game is a little off and you really have to check your blind spot carefully when you are changing lanes in traffic. I don't really need to restore any vision in my right eye....socket.

Here is a woman who lost vision completely and is getting sight restored. Its only rudimentary but its getting there.

Linda Moorfoot explains what its like:

"When I go to the grandkids' hockey game or soccer game I can see which direction the game is moving in. I can shoot baskets with my grandson, and I can see my granddaughter dancing across the stage. It's wonderful."

Check out an article about Linda and HER bionic eye here.

She uses a camera that is mounted to glasses. For many people who are blind, they have lost their eyes and need prosthetics for aeshetic reasons. What Steve Mann and I are working on could have applications for these people. And stay tuned for how Steve will help me watch 3D movies again with his cross eye-tap technology.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ancient Evil!

Neato. A 4800 year old prosthetic eye.

The 4,800-year-old artificial eye was recently found by archaeologists working at the Burnt City historical site in southeastern Iran, according to a report published by the Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies, a London-based research and educational program.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tiny Camera oh my!

Here's a shot Steve Mann took of me in the lab last night.

Steve is an ace photographer as well as a cyborg/scientist.

You can see one of the camera modules a company sent to us next to my prosthetic eye.

Cool hein?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

NBC news does 6sight / bionic eye story

Watch news story video here.

The above link is to a news story by NBC Monterey, CA where the conference on the future of imaging was held. I was a speaker there talking about my eyecam project and fishing for tech partners.

In general I had a great outing at 6sight!

The 6sight blog is here.

It was like having fish in a barrel all those tiny camera and imaging experts in
one place.

After I spoke about the eyeborg project I was approached by
several high end companies to work with me and Steve Mann
to perfect the prototype we are already developing.

Which is totally great. Woo.

Stay tuned for a short video about the eye and my film shortly.....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Eyeborg lives! Bonus - Eye removal operation video

Hi my name is Rob Spence and I am making a documentary about changing my prosthetic eye into a wireless webcamera. Bionic Style!

Who am I? Well I was Mr Toronto in my last my film - Let's All Hate Toronto for CBC Newsworld in Canada.

Here is a trailer of my last film.

Notice the eyepatch I am wearing. Not a fake! Now you know.

Want proof?

Here is a cool video that takes a quick look at an old 6 million dollar man clip (Steve checks out his new eye) then you see what happens with modern prosthetic eyes. WARNING! This is not for the weak of heart! The eye gets removed. Its a bit gross. That's really me in there getting his eye removed.

How did I lose the eye?

Just like Ralphy from Christmas story I shot my eye out.

I was 11 years old in Ireland at my grandfather's farm and messing around with my grandfather's shotgun - trying to shoot a pile of cowshit. I hit the cowshit btw but the gun backfired and severely injured my eye. Years later I had my eye removed (you can see it in the video above) and voila.

I will be talking about a prosthetic eye camera that I am building at a conference this Thursday in Monterey California.

6sight is a future imaging conference that has all kinds of high end small camera nerds in the cell phone imaging, facial recognition and web imaging application business.

Steve Mann is my partner on this project. He is an MIT grad, and an award winning cybernetics and electrical engineering professor at U of Toronto. His nickname? Cyberman.

He is well known for his pro-cyborg yet anti-Big Brother stance. He wears an external eye camera as a response to all the surveillance cameras filming us and believes in “equiveillance” or our right to surveil those who surveil us. This project has become more than a film. Building this camera eye is a first-of-its-kind project that requires world class engineering skill and we hope that it raises awareness about surveillance issues in general. We are even planning a conference which is something Mann has done with great success before. Professor Mann is not only qualified to build my eye, he has been researching and self-experimenting with issues of surveillance and cyborgization for years.


I am making a film about the process and am in development with the National Film board of Canada. Channel 4 in Britain is just about to say yes and give me lots of money though. Are you reading this Sandra Whipham?

Here is a synopsis of the film, its called Eye 4 an Eye:

Eye 4 an Eye is a quirky feature documentary that explores how we may be sleepwalking into a Big Brother, Orwellian surveillance society. By retrofitting my prosthetic eye into a wireless and web connected video camera I become a symbolic “Little Brother” media virus who goes on a cybernetic journey literally from my point of view. Similar to my last film Let’s All Hate Toronto, where Mr Toronto is a meta-character version of myself, I can manufacture dramatic arcs and character development in tandem with journalistic inquiry that has a healthy dose of satire.

In visual terms, like director Errol Morris, I too want direct eye contact but without an enormous distracting camera contraption. He uses something called an Interrotron that allows him to make eye contact with his interviewees. No need for me to use the bulky Interrotron!


Many scenes and cuts in my film, the most important ones, will literally be direct eye contact. Including blinking and glancing to the side.

Many documentaries have used secret cameras to shoot with and blend that footage with a more conventional camera. My eye camera footage will tend to come in fleetingly to illustrate points or for times when a standard camera is not possible. It will also be a B-camera that can be edited into a sequence with the main A-camera.

I might eyecam record the mess that I see when I go to a 3D movie. Something that I will never be able to watch again. A retinal chip recipient (whose implant restores rudimentary vision) could put the loss of one eye into perspective by reminding me that I didn’t lose vision – just stereo vision. I could intercut what they see of me, swaths and patterns of light, with what I see of them through my eye camera.

The accident I had began a journey that would lead me to add technology to my body and ask hard questions about Big Brother. I will take a shotgun and go back to my grandfather’s farm in Ireland, where I first injured my eye. I will dramatically blast a pile of cow manure without shooting my eye out. I will have come full circle and will finish the job I started as a boy as a grown man. I’ll film it with my new video eye but also with three other cameras for a multi-rendition like they do in Van Damme movies when Van Damme does his “final strike”.