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Contact lenses of the future: read emails and play games

by Steven Williamson on 22 November 2011, 13:33

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Bioengineers from the University of Washington have created a prototype contact lens powered by a remote radiofrequency transmitter that incorporates augmented-reality technology.

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.

HEXUS Forums :: 9 Comments

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I've been waiting for this!

Truthfully the technology and the idea of it has been around for a while behind closed doors. The real issue that is slowly being addressed is that of battery power for the tiny contact, as the report states, they're having to send power wirelessly which has flagged all sorts of health concerns.

Still though, I can't wait for something like this to hit the streets.
Tested on RABBITS? How did the rabbits even confirm that it works?!
Cyborg-nynja-rabbits can provide a wealth of feedback :P

I would think the rabbits are being used to check the safety of it, not to provide user feedback….
Tested on RABBITS? How did the rabbits even confirm that it works?!

Presumably giving them extra feedback on whether to eat a carrot, your slippers or the coffee table.
FFS, do you guys know nothing? A team of scientists were shrunk down to micro scales and injected into the rabbit in a tiny sub, wherein they linked into the rabbits optical nerves. And it probably involved the character who played Dusty in Three Amigos. Or am I getting my “shrinking journey round the body” films mixed up again?