Tested on rabbits, NewScientist reveals that the lens could be used in the medical field to monitor conditions such as diabetes or administer drugs, but could also be used for entertainment and social networking purposes, such as watching videos, checking emails or playing videogames. A “higher resolution lens display could one day be used as satnav enhancers showing you directional arrows for example,” predicts the website.
The prototype is in its early stages, but Babak Praviz of the University of Washington confirms that, "antennas, radio chips, control circuitry, and micrometre-scale light sources can be integrated into a contact lens and operated on live eyes."
One issue scientists had to contend with during development was the natural blurring that occurs when images get close to the retina. Praviz explains, however, that they’ve managed to project clear images through the contacts lenses.
“The test lens was powered remotely using a 5-millimetre-long antenna printed on the lens to receive gigahertz-range radio-frequency energy from a transmitter placed ten centimetres from the rabbit's eye. To focus the light on the rabbit's retina, the contact lens itself was fabricated as a Fresnel lens - in which a series of concentric annular sections is used to generate the ultrashort focal length needed.”
The British Contact Lens Association says that the technology is far from complete, but is keen to see “the technology's potential for biosensing and drug delivery applications in particular.”
New Scientist has the full report.