In a pivotal moment for humanity in 1962, President John Kennedy declared the United States would send astronauts to the moon within the decade. “The goal,” he said, “will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.”
More than sixty years later, research for human exploration of space remains a driving force for health technology innovation that benefits the billions of us here on Earth. Our company PlenOptika was formed to meet the global challenge of poor vision: to help the estimated 1.1 billion people suffering uncorrected refractive error to live, learn, and earn better with clear sight. In collaborating with the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH), we’re learning not only how to adapt our technology to the demands of long-term space flight, but also how that technology can expand access to effective vision care around the world.
TRISH is an applied health research catalyst that funds high-impact scientific studies and technologies to keep astronauts healthy during deep space exploration. Empowered by the NASA Human Research Program, TRISH is a consortium led by Baylor College of Medicine and leverages partnerships with Caltech and MIT.
Research and development (R&D) for space research and for global health impact have common requirements: engineering for the toughest conditions, and rigorous design to achieve high standards of accuracy, usability, efficiency, and durability. When we began collaborating with TRISH, we had a device—called QuickSee—that could radically change how vision care was performed for people outside well resourced vision clinics. Today, the TRISH challenge to make that technology more compact, easier to use, and more accessible guides our product development pipeline. In meeting goals for human space exploration, we are developing real-world products that will help everyone.