Most readers of sci-fi, particularly cyberpunk novels will be familiar with the concept of cyborgs with heads-up displays built into their eyes, which would tell them all kinds of useful information such as speed, time, altitude, directions, etc.
I’ve recently had a very primitive version installed in my own left eye. Just last week I suffered a minor retinal tear and retinal detachment. The procedure to fix this is called a Pneumatic Retinopexy, where they inject your eye with a small amount of inert gas which then forms a bubble. This bubble presses against the detached part of the retina and holds it tight so that it can heal back in place. Lasers are then used to spot-weld the retina in place so that healing can continue.
The gas bubble sits in the top of the eyeball and is very visible at the bottom of my vision (as the eye flips what it sees due to the nature of the lens’ effect on light waves). Whenever I move, the bubble moves in counter to my head’s position, exactly like a bubble in a level. If I shake my head back and forth, the bubble jiggles, just like a soap bubble on water. It’s highly distracting and tends to block a significant amount of my vision, and looks like this when I’m looking directly forward.
Now I know what you’re thinking: This doesn’t make you a cyborg as this bubble isn’t doing anything for you except blocking your vision. However, I’ve recently damaged my vestibular system (inner ear) that provides my brain with my sense of balance, and am forced to rely on my sense of vision to tell me whether I’m standing up straight or not. I tend to stumble into things when walking in low light environments as I’m much more reliant upon my eyesight to tell me where up and down are than most people. Giving my brain a visual signal of where my head is in space is extremely useful.
So far, being able to tell where my head is located even in the dark has been very useful in situations like showering where being wet with closed eyes can cause me severe vertigo. Did I mention that this bubble is visible in my eye even in pitch black as the gas is directly stimulating the retina and causes a halo that’s apparent at all times.
Known Problems with current model: The bubble is very distracting at its current size. The bubble also moves from the lower edge of my vision to the center when I look down, so some method of attaching it to the top of the retina would be required, but it would still have to stay fluid.
The bubble currently only tells me one piece of information, i.e. relative head position, it would be useful to be able to add some other info such as time, location etc. no idea how to implement this. Perhaps a gas that changes colour based on various body signals such as temp or heart rate etc. Also, I’d like to be able to turn it off or on as needed.
Also, since the bubble obscures the bottom of my visual field, I find that I have to sit down to pee as I can’t see near my feet too well. This is a major flaw.
Oh yeah, the procedure apparently went quite well and my retina has been sealed back in place and is healing. Apparently the bubble will dissipate over the next week or two.
Further updates as warranted.
Update: Tuesday Sept 8, 2015. Bubble has broken into smaller pieces which is way more distracting as they all move independent of each other.