High-tech contact lenses closer to reality
"Some day maybe we'll have full-fledged streaming in your contact lenses," said Babak Amir Parviz, an associate professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington who co-authored a paper describing the computerized new contact lens in the latest issue of the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering. contact lenses read emails text, Electronic contact lens displays pixels on the eyes,
Parviz along with an international team of engineers has constructed a contact lens embedded with a tiny LED that can light up when a wireless signal is sent to it.
Parviz collaborated on the device with UW ophthalmologist Tueng Shen and researchers from Aalto University in Finland led by optoelectronics professor Markku Sopanen. Parviz’s group specializes in incorporating miniaturized devices into unconventional materials and has been working on functional contact lenses for a while, he said. computerized contact lens,
"If we can make very small devices of various sorts, if we have the ability to put them into different materials, what can I do with this contact lens that I stare at every morning?"
The engineers took an extremely small custom-designed LED made with sapphire and embedded it in the center of a plastic contact lens. They also embedded a circular antenna around the inside lip of the lens. A miniature integrated circuit connects the antenna and the blue LED. Using remote radio frequency transmission, the group was able to control a single pixel.
With this setup, a human eye still wouldn’t be able to distinguish that pixel due to the minimum focal distance required to see anything clearly. With that in mind, the researchers created a separate, non-computerized contact lens containing an array of special flatter, thinner lenses known as Fresnel lenses, each less than a micron thick. The array successfully focused light from the LED.
Once the researchers had determined that the experimental lenses were safe in the lab, they tested them on live rabbits. After wearing them for a short period, the rabbits didn’t have any abrasions or thermal burning. “We have been able to build the whole system and test it on rabbits, on live eyes, and show that this works and it’s safe,” Parviz said.
Being able to display information and images directly into the field of vision via contact lens would be useful in a number of ways, according to the engineers. The devices could be used for navigation, for gaming, and even as a way to monitor someone’s health and safety. It could also be a super sneaky way to access info while carrying on a conversation.