I See Right Through You

  • BY Justin Alvarez

What if we were able to detect changes in our blood through the skin? Medically, this technology would make venipuncture easier for phlebotomists and increase patient satisfaction during blood draws. Biologically, the ability to detect the fluctuations of oxygen in blood hemoglobin would allow you to “read” a person’s emotional state, such as embarrassment or anger. It also sounds like a superpower, doesn’t it?

Based on research of the evolution of color vision in primates, 2AI Labs in Boise, Idaho, has developed a pair of glasses, the O2Amps, that visually recognize changes in the level of oxygen in blood hemoglobin. The company have already been testing the technology in two regional hospitals.

Researcher Mark A. Changizi, Ph.D., wrote on his website, “The human eye is specifically tuned to see blood and the amount of oxygen in blood, right through the skin. Your eyes naturally see two kinds of color change due to variations in your blood: oxygenation and concentration.” He added, in regards to the lens technology, “O2Amp lenses perfect what the eye does naturally, by removing noise from the blood signal, giving a clearer view of people, their health, vitality, and state of mind.”

The glasses will amplify these blood signals, making them more readily visible to onlookers. For phlebotomists, hidden vasculature will be easily detected. For social situations, changes in people’s temperament will be easily detected by the lenses wearer. While the company is eying the mass market with the technology—who would want to see their friend’s veins glowing?—the scientific implementations are inspirational.