Until now, an eye test has meant a trip to the optometrist for most people. NETRA, from MIT's Media Lab, is set to change that. Combined with a modern mobile phone, the US$2 device allows eye glass prescriptions to be produced simply and quickly in any location. Preliminary testing has shown that it can achieve results comparable to the standard aberrometer test and clinical trials are due to begin shortly. Initially targeting parts of Africa and Asia, the company responsible for manufacture, PerfectSight, is expecting the product to be a boon for the developing world, where the sophisticated equipment currently required for eyesight tests has been cost prohibitive.
I remember encountering the ugly black-and-white stripes of a barcode for the first time – defacing the front of my favorite magazine. Of course, Mad found a way of dealing with the UPC code by making jokes at its expense. But now, some ground-breaking work at MIT could see the visual blight of barcodes replaced altogether by Bokodes, tiny tenth-of-an-inch optical data tags that can hold thousands of times more information and be read by the camera on your mobile phone.