Imagine being able to see in black and white or with an Instagram-like filter, or to have what you see through your eyes transmitted wirelessly, simply by swallowing a pill. Or imagine having vision so sharp and accurate that your visual acuity is on par with the most sight-adept people in the world. Italian research studio Mhox hopes to one day make this a reality with its EYE concept, which would offer 3D bioprinted eyes that replace your existing eyeballs.
It sounds like science fiction, and in many ways it is, with a projected availability of around January 2027. But the concept provides a fascinating glimpse of the future of human enhancement, which may eventually go far beyond enhanced eyeballs to provide super strength and athletic performance as well as a direct line from your brain to the internet.
EYE (short for Enhance Your Eye) will come in three models: EYE Heal, EYE Enhance, and EYE Advance. The former would simply replace the defective eyes of the blind and visually impaired ,while the latter two would offer enhancements such as filters, wireless communication, and high-acuity ("up to 15/10") vision. All three versions will be customizable in size, shape, and structural characteristics according to the needs and preferences of the individual.
It will all be made possible by 3D bioprinting, with different bio-inks providing the different types of cells and organic tissue required, all of which will automatically gather together. Or so goes the theory. Keep in mind that at this stage EYE is entirely conceptual, a design based on speculative near-future technology.
As for how these synthetic eyes would get into your head, Mhox partner and lead designer Filippo Nasetti told Dezeen that subjects would have their natural eyes surgically removed in favor of a new organic component called the deck. This deck would connect muscle fibers from the synthetic eye to the optical nerves in the brain, and it would allow new eyes to be swapped and upgraded easily.
Mhox hopes that the EYE project will spark some controversy to stir discussion about the future of technology augmenting and enhancing the human body. "We believe it challenges the contemporary concepts of natural and synthetic," he says, noting that such technologies hold great promise as well as risk.