All this is thanks to an earlier technology developed by a team of some of the same researchers. The flat lens design that this new artificial eye benefits from is called the metal. It uses small nanostructures to focus light. In this way, it can focus the entire visible light spectrum on a single point. However, traditional lenses use several elements to achieve the same performance, which is why they become so bulky.
Prior to this latest breakthrough, the SEAS team says they could only manufacture metal lenses that were "the size of a piece of glitter." However, their latest invention is larger by about a centimeter in diameter. Larger, in this case, it is better because it makes it easier to use the technology in a variety of modern applications. With cameras, for example, a lens needs to be large enough to cover a sensor so that there is no vignetting.
As with any new technology, it will probably take years for metal lenses to become consumer goods. But their potential is unmistakable. Combined with even smaller computer chips, something like virtual and augmented reality headsets can become small and comfortable enough where the technology becomes appealing to the average consumer.