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File:Cyberneticeyes.jpg


"My vision is augmented."
JC Denton, Deus Ex

Eyes made from electronics. Prevalent in cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk works, occasionally crops up in Sci Fi works that don't focus as much on transhumanism.

Normally the eye is some kind of upgrade or super sense. It may have a superzoom, infrared or perhaps digitised vision. This is quite common with the Cyborg hero whose powers are his cybernetic upgrades.

It can also be a prosthetic replacement for lost eyes. These are commonly found in stories set in the far future with widely available technology. In reality, artificial sight technology is already pretty advanced, so as writers catch up with science we should be seeing crude-but-workable Electronic Eyes in about Twenty Minutes Into the Future.

Sometimes the eye is very visually distinct. Bizarre irises or unusual pupils mark the individual. Working on the principle of the eyes being the window to the soul, these Technicolor Eyes can be a small but direct method of demonstrating the fact that an otherwise normal-looking individual is at least partially cybernetic. In the case of prosthetic eyes they also work as a scar signifier. Since the eyes are taken as so much more personal they can be a much smaller effect for greater emotional impact.

If only one eye is cybernetic, it is a form of Eyepatch of Power.

See also the supertropes Cyborg and Eye Tropes. When the person with these eyes dies, expect to see Eye Lights Out. See Glass Eye for the fantasy version of this.

Examples of Electronic Eyes include:

Advertising

  • Verizon's advertisements for the Droid X show this happening (for some reason) as the user watches the built in Blockbuster-on-demand feature.

Anime and Manga

  • The Combat Cyborgs introduced in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. Their eyes were amongst the many body parts replaced with cybernetic implants. Close-ups of their eyes reveal camera lenses that rotate when they're using their Super Senses.
  • In Ghost in the Shell (all versions) one of the main characters, Batou, has very obvious artificial eyes. In Stand Alone Complex they are referred to as "ranger eyes," after the eyes used by the ranger unit he belonged to when he was in the military. Not much is revealed of their capabilities.
    • They are shown to include night vision, a powerful zoom, limited ability to detect thermoptic camouflage and in the final episode of 2nd Gig a visual Trust Password when a corrupt official is silly enough to send Rangers after a former Ranger.
    • In Stand Alone Complex, Borma has a similar pair of eyes, except they are red. Nothing known about their capabilities. Saito's left eye is his cybernetic "Hawkeye", which has a super powerful scoping ability and he can access satellites to zoom in on his targets to help with his sniping. When not used, remains closed, looking akin to an eye patch.
  • All the Hooba siblings from Princess Resurrection have them, though they are android, not cyborg.
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes has Paul von Oberstein, who was born blind until he got a pair of rather creepy prosthetic eyes.
  • Cowboy Bebop star Spike Spiegel has a false eye. It functions practically identically to a natural eye, with no nifty technological tricks. The only sign of its falseness is the fact that it's a slightly different shade of brown than his real eye.

Comic Books

  • In a strange aversion of nearly every other aspect of this trope, Judge Dredd has Bionic Eyes, given to him after his real ones were ripped out of their sockets by a zombie version of himself from the future. In keeping with the Dredd ethos of him just being a regular human though (albeit at the peak of his abilities, in the same manner as Batman) they give him no special powers, apart from standard 20:20 vision. As you never see his face either, you don't even know if they look different, so essentially they've had no functional impact on the character or story.
    • Not true at all, in Dredd's own words, the new eyes give him 20:20 night vision, enhanced clarity over distance, and a 50% reduction in blinking time. He praises the efficiency of his new eyes after he gets them, and his one regret is that he never got them sooner. Truth be told though, you'll probably be hard-pressed to ever find another story where any of those tidbits ever come up again. Also, in the 2000 AD story The Dead Man, one of the earliest tip-offs to the reader revealing that the titular disfigured character is actually Dredd is the fact that his eyes don't look natural.
    • It also crops up in another story, where a group of perps use an EMP device. Unsurprisingly, Dredd is Blind Without'Em.
  • Haazen from Knights of the Old Republic had one mechanical eye that was visibly artificial and glowed bright red. His other eye seemed to be simply an empty socket, leading one to wonder why he didn't get it replaced, too.
  • Mr. Marsh of No Hero has computers in his head that's revealed by glowing eyes.
  • Police captain Wiggins in Grendel (Devil's Legacy). We never see how this works but the eye can be attuned to a person's physiology to function as a lie detector (much the same way as a real lie detector works but in this case, he's probably seeing somewhat like what Geordi Laforge might see through his visor). Quite useful in questioning suspects. Although, apparently he often prefers to rely on his intelligence and intuition rather than just his built in lie detector. He's probably aware that any good liar can beat a lie detector.

Fan Fiction

  • In Aeon Entelechy Evangelion it is mandatory for the military personnel to get eye modifications, either in form of special contacts or replacing the organic eyes with the artificial ones, since on the battlefield there are lots of thing, mostly lasers, that tend to blind at best or fry the eyeballs at worst.
  • In Tiberium Wars, one of Commander Karrde's eyes is an electronic replacement. In addition, Commander Rawne arranges for a soldier who was blinded by shrapnel to get replacement electronic eyes. Being a Nod soldier, naturally, her eyes glow red. Avatar pilots also have glowing electronic eyes, along with a slew of other implants to help them control their mechs.

Live Action TV

  • The "Bionic Eye" was first introduced in The Six Million Dollar Man. Not only could Steve Austin see perfectly with it, but it had 20X telescopic capability, could zoom in at will, had infra-red and night-vision capability, and was coordinated with his bionic arm to give him pin-point hand-eye coordination and accuracy, even making him an unbeatable tennis-player.
    • The Bionic Woman also had a bionic ear, which allowed her to hear voices from a full mile away.
    • In the TV movie The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, Steve Austin's long lost son also gets a bionic eye. This eye doesn't have a zoom lens or infrared vision; instead, it has a laser.
  • The Borg in Star Trek are also mentioned to have ocular implants.
    • Not a stretch, considering that most of them have some kind of cybernetic hardware covering one eye.
    • "Covering" one eye?
  • In Babylon 5 G'Kar gets a replacement eye for the one he lost during his captivity on Centauri Prime. Unfortunately, the only iris color that was in stock was blue, which is completely mismatched with the deep red color of his remaining eye.
  • The Silicates of Space: Above and Beyond have eyes that look like targeting reticules.
  • In Century City, a hopeful baseball player has a bionic eye and has to appeal in court in order for him to play on the grounds that bionics give an unfair advantage to a player.

Film

  • RoboCop says his eyes are "the best money can buy"; they are somehow superior to human vision, despite having visibly poor screen-resolution Robo Cam.
  • In Repo! The Genetic Opera Blind Mag, born blind but given the ability to see by GeneCo at the price of having to sing for the GeneCo Opera. Eventually she is marked for repossession, but before it can happen she removes the eyes herself at the end of her final performance for Gene Co. She is of course, killed for her defiance.
  • Silver from Treasure Planet has cybernetic eye instead of an eye patch. It's generally yellow, but turns red when he's angry.
  • In the Star Trek the Next Generation films after Generations, Geordi LaForge replaced his VISOR with streamlined ocular implants. LeVar Burton did not like wearing the VISOR prop.
    • From what we see in First Contact, the implants are far superior to the VISOR, as he is actually able to see people in normal colors, as opposed to rainbow shapes. It is unknown if he can still tell when people are lying.

Literature

  • Common in the Revelation Space series by Alastair Reynolds. The Ultranauts (crews of the starships) frequently adopt these, with their quality varying greatly. Dan Sylveste has artificial eyes which were locally made on a planet with no advanced technology, so his vision is terrible, like a public CCTV feed.
  • On the cover of the book Extras, the fourth book of the Uglies trilogy; the characters have "eyescreens," which is like permanent internet interface embedded in the eye that can be shut off at will.
  • The Dune universe has "Tleilaxu eyes": metal eyes that the Bene Tleilax claimed improved on the originals. The Duncan Idaho ghola Hayt was given them by his Tleilaxu creators. They were sometime bought to replace the eyes lost due to attacks by stone burners. Some Fremen believed that they enslaved their user.
  • One character in the Time Wars books loses an eye and gets a bionic replacement.
  • Olhado in Speaker for the Dead has metal eyes; his name is Portuguese for "the guy with the eyes" (according to the novel, anyway).
  • Honor Harrington gets one after the second book in the series. Get's nifty features like a zoom function and night vision but because the input doesn't quite match the remaining organic eye there's always a sense of something off. She ponders if having the other eye replaced would change that but isn't interested experimenting to find out.
  • In Quantum Gravity, Lila Black, Cyborg, has had her eyes replaced along with many other body parts. They are perfect mirrors because of this, which pushes her into the Uncanny Valley for some characters.
  • Though it functions on magic instead of cybernetics, Mad-Eye Moody's prosthetic eye in Harry Potter looks weird and has enhanced capabilities, like being able to spin in its socket and look in any direction, even behind him.

Music

  • The narrator of Jonathan Coulton's "The Future Soon" imagines meeting the girl he has a crush on in the future: "I'll see her standing by the monorail / She'll look the same except for bionic eyes / She lost the real ones in the Robot Wars..."

Other

  • The Terminator ride at Universal Studios has a fake ad for cybernetic enhancements which shows a basketball player with artificial eyes that aid in his targeting. He sinks the perfect shot. And then his eyes glow red...

Tabletop Games

  • Common in the Shadowrun game 'verse. To the point where there are several brands, with Zeiss being the state of the art for cyber-eyes.
  • Among the many cybernetic implants the Imperium uses in Warhammer 40000 "augmetic optics" are quite common. Gaunt's Ghosts features an electronic-eyed soldier who's a valuable reconnaissance asset as his range of vision extends across the electromagnetic spectrum.

Video Games

  • In Mass Effect 2, The Illusive Man's eyes are notable for being obviously artificial. The protagonist, Commander Shepard, is also mentioned as having implants to aid with targeting and so forth (along with various other body modifications). Kick the Dog enough and they glitch out and are being listed under Red Eyes, Take Warning.
  • The Deus Ex series features these. One of the characters lampshades the fact that JC wears his glasses everywhere, and he responds by saying "My vision is augmented."
    • 2027 features these as an augmentation upgrade.
  • Deus Ex Human Revolution features these. You can upgrade them to allow you to see through walls, tell when an enemy will stop looking for you, and keep you safe from flashbangs.
  • Used rather bizarrely to avoid an Artifact Title for GoldenEye: Rogue Agent.
  • In Mega Man X Command Mission, while X is a robot, and thus obviously has electronic eyes, a close-up on his eye shows up all kinds of little circuitry doodads visible on the iris.
    • This is also true in Mega ManX8, where X's irises are drawn like camera shutters. Strangely, the other robot characters have normal-looking eyes.
  • Garrett, from Thief, has a prominent Steampunk prosthetic eye from the second game onwards. It allows him to zoom in, as well as see through a special remote camera that can be tossed around corners. In one cutscene, it is shown that the eye apparently requires regular removal and maintenance, at least refilling with some fluid.
  • In Starcraft, ghosts can get an upgrade called "Ocular Implants," increasing their sight radius. It is actually quite useful as it allows the ghost to call in nuke strikes from outside the blast radius.
  • An NPC in Knights of the Old Republic, Gadon Thek, apparently has a pair of these, although they don't look too different from normal eyes. You can even ask him about his "freaky eyes".
  • Peacock, from Skullgirls, possesses an unusual version of these. Her eyes (on her face) are cartoony-looking Black Bead Eyes, but in reality just empty sockets. Instead, she has three large artificial eyes attached to each of her mechanical arms. She takes this further with the ability to summon an indefinite amount of these eyes; they are all free-floating and she can see out of every single one, giving her a massive field of vision. On top of that, they can all shoot lasers.
  • The Engineer of Team Fortress 2 can equip an accessory called "The Googly Gazer," which has alternate styles to make it look like either a regular Glass Eye or an electronic one.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Matrix, Enzo's adult form in Re Boot season 3, after he lost an eye to an opponent in a fighting game, replaces it with a gold optic with a stylized M. When he gets angry, it rolls and the M on the other side glows red.
  • Dick Knubbler, sound engineer for Dethklok, has a pair of robotic eyes after his real eyes were literally exploded by the power of the bands rocking. Each eye can move independently, like a chameleon.

Real Life

  • Many scientists are working on creating retinal implants that can send information directly into the optic nerve, effectively curing many kinds of blindness (and simpler models, such as those which transmit image data onto another kind of receptor, such as the tongue, already exist). These same scientists are perfectly aware that once you can turn an electronic camera into an effective human eye, there is no difficulty whatsoever in giving these cameras night vision, zoom functions, etc...
    • Unfortunately, these optic nerve/visual cortex devices currently have far lower resolution than even the cheapest digital camera, and are generally limited to producing "white" or "black" (on or off) pixels. It's better than being blind, but it produces nowhere near the detail of normal vision.
  • In 2005, Tanya Marie Vlach has lost her left eye in a car accident. Now she is collecting funds to help her build an HD-equipped prosthetic eye capable of augmented reality. Apparently, it will shoot in a 720p resolution. However, it will not send the data to a nerve of some sort. Instead, the video will be transmitted to a mobile device. Vlach wants the eye to take photos from blinks.
    • Rob Spence, "the Eyeborg," has something like this. He lost one of his eyes in a shooting accident as a teenager, and eventually had a prosthetic eye installed that matches the motion of his existing eye and transmits the video to a handheld receiver. It's not HD and it doesn't have Augmented Reality capabilities yet, but the technology is a proven element.
  • The US Army is working on a cybernetic eye code-named "Luke's Binoculars".
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