Surgeons in Fresno have performed the first bionic X Ray eye implant in a Transportation Security Agency employee who volunteered to become the first highly mobile focused X ray (HiMobX) Scanner.
The TSA volunteer, Bob Ray Gunn, 54, was implanted with the Alternative Multisensor Device (AMD) in a four hour operation, which has led to his acquisition of highly focused X Ray vision. The implant, located in the middle of his forehead, converts video images from a miniature X Ray video camera into signals which are sent to his occipital lobe through an artificial neural net developed by Microsoft.
Mr Bob Ray Gunn with his wife Minnie and
Doctor Smith chat after the operation.
He can now make out solid objects and the body shape and even skin markings such as tattoo marks, right through a person´s clothing, using the implant.
Mr Ray Gunn said he was "delighted" with the implant and hoped in time it would improve his performance to help him with day-to-day tasks searching passengers at the Fresno airport security points.
The AMD implant, manufactured by the US firm Freedom and Security Sight, has previously been implanted in chimpanzees and orangutangs at an experimental animal lab located at the Army´s Fort Detrick Medical Research facilities. The project´s original objective was to develop an eye implant which allows soldiers to see through walls. This was found to be impractical because the XRay lamp able to go through a cement block wall used too much power.
I met Bob Ray Gunn last month, on the morning of his surgery and he explained that although he was quite capable when it came to pat downs and feeling passenger´s genitals for hidden weapons, his ability to discern solid objects through clothing was non existent.
He said: "I'm unable to figure out if a woman is carrying a knife between her breasts unless I make her undress, and although I was a keen guitar player, I can't make my fingers move that fast anymore. Passengers get annoyed if we take too much time running our fingers through their shirt and pant seams"
Mr Ray Gunn said he had to get extremely close to the passenger to see anything He had given up getting full assurance that a passenger wouldn´t be carrying a bomb unless he got them to strip down to their underwear, because he cannot make out what is happening if the person is dressed.
The operation took four hours and was led by Paulo Smith, consultant ophthalmologist and vitreo-retinal surgeon at Fresno Royal Eye Hospital and Chief Medical Surgeon at the US Army´s Bionic Implant Academy. He said: "Mr Ray Gunn 's progress is truly remarkable, he is seeing the outline of people and objects very effectively. This is an outstanding first step towards our ultimate goal: the cyborg government employee, the “light weight” version of the US Army´s future Cyborg Special Forces Units.
"I think this could be the beginning of a new era for humanity, we won´t have to fear being replaced by robots, we´ll have the advantage of bionic devices and the comfort of knowing that most of our body will still be us"
In a test, two weeks after surgery, Mr Ray Gunn was able to detect the bodies of fully clothed simulated male and female bodies, as well as any solid objects they carried on themselves. He kept his two natural eyes closed during the test so that the medical team could be sure that the visual information was coming via the implant.
Mr Ray Gunn said: "It was wonderful to be able to see the tattoos on a woman´s butt with my eyes closed. The only drawback has been the Microsoft software´s tendency to force incompatible upgrades at critical times, and their annoying messages suggesting I store the X Ray images in the Microsoft Cloud”.
Prof Smith said, “Yes, the choice of Microsoft may have been an error, their help desk hasn´t been very useful”. But he says the program will evolve, and that in time, Mr Ray Gunn should have a different operating system (such as Ubuntu) and learn how to interpret the images from the implant more effectively. I´m sure that eventually he´ll be able to detect the passenger´s stomach´s content and whether a woman passenger has an IUD. This will allow us to speed up TSA search lines, and provide full assurance that some nut isn´t about to sneak aboard carrying a bottle of contact lens eye drops, a Rubik´s Cube, or any other forbidden objects”.