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Rob Spence shows his bionic eye, which has an in-socket video camera that records video that can be sent to a handheld LCD viewer with no connection to the optic nerve  (Source: grinding.be)
Square Enix, publisher of "Deus Ex: Human Revolution," sent filmmaker Rob Spence on a trip around the world to see where we are in the field of prosthetics

"Deus Ex: Human Revolution" was only released last week and has already received quite a bit of attention after GameStop pulled all of the OnLive coupons from sealed packages and placed them back on the shelves for sale as new. Now, the new game is catching the public's eye once again in a new video that investigates how far we are from the future portrayed in "Deus Ex: Human Revolution."

Square Enix, publisher of "Deus Ex: Human Revolution," sent filmmaker Rob Spence on a trip around the world to see where we are in the 
field of prosthetics, and how long it might be before our reality is similar to that of "Deus Ex: Human Revolution." 

In the game, lead character Adam Jensen is a cyborg who uses Terminator eyes, which add situational data to vision, and robotic arms that are capable of super strength and are able to produce weapons.

Spence can relate to Jensen somewhat, since he is a “cyborg” as well. Commonly referred to as "Eyeborg," Spence utilizes an in-socket video camera as one of his eyes, which records video that can be sent to a handheld LCD viewer with no connection to the optic nerve. He lost his eye in a shotgun accident as a child. 

In his latest documentary, 
"Deus Ex: The Eyeborg Documentary," Spence meets some of the most high-tech cyborgs who use robotic eyes, arms or legs as replacement limbs/organs. 

Along the way, Spence meets Miika Terho, a blind man from Finland who lost his vision due to Retinitis pigmentosa. Terho's vision was restored through a chip that was implanted underneath his retina. The chip replaced broken photo receptors and allows his to make out shapes of many objects. 

While the eye was obviously a central focus for Spence, he also explored the use of other bionic body parts, such as the arm. In the documentary, he interviews Jason Henderson, a man who lost both of his arms in a fireworks accident. Henderson has robotic arms from below the elbow down to the hand on both arms. He is able to use the remaining muscles in his arm to send electrical signals to sensors in the bionic arms instructing them how to move. He can also switch the types of "hands" he uses, from regular five-fingered hands to those that look like curved discs, which are better for swimming.

As far as prosthetic legs go, former Army Staff Sgt. Heath Calhoun was documented for having two bionic legs. He possess a hydraulic knee that has a microprocessor inside, which is updated 50 times per second by a sensor that determines whether or not to add hydraulic resistance. But Calhoun mentioned that a bionic leg that can do stairs would make his life a lot easier, and that's where Össur Prosthetics from Iceland comes in. 

Össur Prosthetics has developed the Power Knee, which gives cyborgs the power to stand up and walk up stairs more easily. 

Prosthesis is even being used where it is not replacing a lost limb or organ, but simply enhancing what we already have. For instance, Joseph Junke, president and CEO of Tanagram Partners, is in the process of developing a mask for firefighters that adds situational data to their vision as well as a glove that activates it. By squeezing the glove into a fist and opening it back up again, a firefighter wearing the specialized mask can see a menu of options literally at his fingertips. The mask then displays information like oxygen levels and ambient room temperature in certain areas. 

Junke expects a prototype to be complete within one year, and production of the masks/gloves to be in full swing in two years. 

"I think technology moves more quickly now," said David Jönsson, prosthetics engineer at Össur. "At the moment, it's more a matter of what you can imagine. I mean, who says that a normal human leg is the optimal thing for you? Prosthesis evolved to this leg that we have now, but who says that's the end of the line?"

These questions may lead to people wanting to remove limbs surgically for the bionic versions because they could work more efficiently and have more options one day, and the documentary added that this could likely lead to a whole new set of ethical questions. But for now, engineers are just starting to experiment with neural prosthetics. 

So when can we expect to see cyborgs like Jensen from "Deus Ex: Human Revolution?" According to Junke, it's very likely that we could have a similar reality before 2027. But the greatest challenge will be an 
interface directly connected with the brain.

The documentary can be seen 
here.





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