As a regular cinemagoer in my teens, I was intrigued by the predictions of technological advancements that were rife in 90s sci-fi films, as well as the effect these devices could have on the post-millennial world.
While many were wrong (as yet) of course – flying cars in The Fifth Element anyone? – a number of seemingly impossible inventions have become a reality in 2016 – driverless cars in Total Recall, wearable tech in Back to the Future and virtual reality in The Matrix.
Many professions are experiencing technology-related advances, and optics is of course one of them – from eye tests via smartphones, to 3D printed specs and drug-dispensing smart contact lenses, and the potential for what’s next is endless.
An interesting story to pass my desk this week shared details of how eye scans could be used to train an artificial intelligence system by Google to detect common eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration earlier.
The collaboration between the search engine’s DeepMind Health arm and Moorfields Eye Hospital will see the hospital share one million past eye scans. They will be used to help teach the system how to quickly and effectively analyse the scans, which would usually be interpreted by the practitioners.
Moorfields stressed that the scans will be anonymised and said that it is excited about the potential of the technology, with the hospital’s Professor Peng Teep Khaw explaining: "Our research has the potential to revolutionise the way professionals carry out eye tests and could lead to earlier detection and treatment of common eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration."
Another potential future development to keep an eye on.