Can we biologically extend the range of human vision into the near infrared?

Science for the Masses | Peyton Rowlands | Jeffrey A Tibbetts | Gabriel Licina | Ian Galvin

This project was funded on:
14 October 2013

We have developed a protocol to augment human sight to see into the near infrared range through human formation of porphyropsin, the protein complex which grants infrared vision to freshwater fish.

Retinal, or Vitamin A (A1), which is found bound to opsin proteins is a keystone of the visual pathway. The cone cells are granted sharp color vision by the complex photopsin. The rod cells which provide us with night vision and recognition of movement do so utilizing rhodopsin. Both of the complexes consist of a type of protein bound to retinal. Porphyropsin differs from this in that it doesn't use retinal, but rather a derivation called 3,4-dehydroretinol, or Vitamin A2 (A2).

The human body is fully capable of metabolizing and using A2; unfortunately the proteins which allow for transport through cell membranes have nearly 4 times the affinity for A1 compared to A2. We theorize that this can be overcome through a stringent Vitamin A1 restricted diet, supplemented with Vitamin A2.


Budget Overview

The majority of the funds will go towards the design, purchase, and fabrication of data collection equipment. The experiment to be performed will require monitoring of visual spectrum shifts over a period of 6 months. The four of us who will be performing the experiment live in different states and have other obligations that make it unfeasible to remain at one location for the duration of the experiment. As a result, we have trimmed the design of our testing equipment to be as inexpensive as possible, and will assemble one for each subject.

The second part of the funding goes towards the Vitamin A2 supplement. This is not something one can purchase from a standard store and we are exploring extracting it from the livers of freshwater fish, or purchasing a small amount from a reliable chemical supplier.

Meet the Researcher


We are a group of research minded individuals from a variety of backgrounds interested in exploring non-institutional open source science. We are interested everyone having access to the research materials and tools that are usually only accessible to large organizations like universities. Our team consists of professionals in research, the health care industry, and technical design.

Endorsed by


This is a fascinating project with a lot of potential. The more we understand and experiment with the human body the...See more

CEO of Soylent

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Project Backers

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