All this is thanks to an earlier technology developed by a team of the same researchers. The flat lens design that takes advantage of this new artificial eye is called metallic. It uses small nanostructures to focus light. It is thus able to focus the entire spectrum of visible light at a single point. In contrast, traditional lenses use multiple elements to accomplish the same feat, which is why they become so bulky.
Prior to this latest breakthrough, the SEAS team said they were only able to produce metallics that are "the size of a piece of shine." the big one in this case is better because it makes it possible to use the technology in many modern applications. For example, for cameras, the lens should be large enough to cover the sensor so that there are no vignettes.
As with any new technology, it will probably take years before the metallics make their way to consumer gadgets. However, their potential is unmistakable. Combined with even smaller computer chips, something like virtual reality and augmented reality headsets can become small and convenient enough when technology becomes attractive to the average consumer.