Researchers from IMEC at the Centre of Microsystems Technology (CMST) in Ghent University, Belgium have developed a spherical curved LCD which can be embedded into contact lenses. The new LCD technology can display much more detailed designs than an LED-based contact lens display and also allow use of the entire contact lens surface as a display. The example, shown below shows a dollar sign displayed upon the LCD.
Currently the spherical curved LCD based technology can only display rudimentary pixel patterns like what you may see on a pocket calculator. Another thing to consider about the new development is that the pictures and patterns displayed cannot be “read” by the wearer as they are far too close to the eye to focus upon, even for the most myopic person.
Lead researcher Jelle De Smet and colleagues at CMST believe that the LCD display may have medical, cosmetic and entertainment applications but the first practical idea is that a “one-pixel, fully covered contact lens acting as adaptable sunglasses” could be built into the eye to help people with damaged retinas. Different pixel patterns could control the light transmission to the eye and a colour LCD could even tune the iris colour appearance.
While the invention as it stands isn’t going to bring about a contact lens alternative to Google’s Project Glass, Phys.org news speculates that “In the future, the display could also function as a head-up display, superimposing an image onto the user's normal view”.
There remains the challenge of powering the LCD once it’s on or built into the eye. The prototype in the video and picture uses a 5V wired connection. The device only needs a tiny current to change the display so it is hoped that in the future it could be powered autonomously using electromagnetic induction. Also integrated flexible solar cells and microbatteries are a power option suggests optics.org. That sounds like a lot of stuff to stick in your eye, I’d prefer the induction option, or tear duct powered hydro-electric power! Check out the video below...