Researchers in Finland and the US have developed and tested a prototype contact lens that could provide the wearer with a real time hands-free display.
The researchers from the University of Washington and Aalto University, Finland, have constructed a computerised contact lens and demonstrated its safety by testing it on live eyes. At the moment, the contact lens device contains only a single pixel but the researchers see this as a "proof-of-concept" for producing lenses with multiple pixels which, in their hundreds, could be used to display short emails and text messages right into the eye.
The contact lens consists of an antenna to harvest power sent out by an external source, as well as an integrated circuit to store the energy and transfer it to a transparent sapphire chip containing a single blue LED.
The device could overlay computer-generated visual information on to the real world and be of use in gaming devices and navigation systems. It could also be linked to biosensors in the user's body to provide up-to-date information on glucose or lactate levels.
One major problem the researchers had to overcome was the fact that the human eye, with its minimum focal distance of several centimetres, cannot resolve objects on a contact lens. Any information projected on to the lens would probably appear blurry. To combat this, the researchers incorporated a set of Fresnel lenses into the device; these are much thinner and flatter than conventional bulky lenses, and were used here to focus the projected image on to the retina.
After testing the contact lens in free space, it was fitted to the eye of a rabbit, under the strict guidelines for animal use in the laboratory, to evaluate the effect of wearing the contact lens on the cornea and the body in general. In addition to visualising techniques, a fluorescent dye was added to the eye of the rabbit to test for any abrasion or thermal burning.
"We need to improve the antenna design and the associated matching network and optimize the transmission frequency to achieve an overall improvement in the range of wireless power transmission,” said Professor Babak Praviz of the Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Washington in Seattle."Our next goal, however, is to incorporate some predetermined text in the contact lens." This article was first published in our sister publication EE Times Europe.
This is very exciting in terms of the possibilities it opens for the future. Some very legitimate concerns (cooling, focus, etc.) have been noted, but those can and will be solved. In this instance, it looks like the toughest part has now been done while the other parts, which will require more innovation, still remain. I think we will see versions of this adapted for both military and consumer use.
The system must be designed so that the image on the nearby surface appears in focus as the user adjusts their external vision focus to different distances. Is it so close that the minor changes in eye focus don't substantially affect this image?
This is perfect for some military staff drone who the government does not care about the health and welfare of, but as a consumer product it is alarming. The eye is poorly cooled due to lack of circulatory system density that is found in other areas of the body, and it is more vulnerable to electromagnetic radiation. Already, data from the relatively small amount of scientific research being done that asks the hard questions of EMR without industry bias, is finding significantly increased levels of eye cancer in mobile phone users. Expect this to rise exponentially with transmitters at the proximity of a contact lens. The lack of collaboration between IT and biology has no clearer an example than right here, and we will, like mobile phone EMR, be suffering for it.
This is indeed amazing technology which will likely bring a while new level to 3D movie. What kind of application do you envision by leverage the greatest of the technology?
On the other hands, safety is a great concern like the article said. Thermal burning is among the most. Any long term effect towards the eyes of the audience is another.
Today morning while browsing through a local newspaper, this news was caught in my eyes. It is amazing to see this group of researchers made something possible, which seemed impossible to do. So nothing seems impossible now! We could be able to watch TV just by wearing a pair of contact lenses...can't believe still! Kudos to the team!!
This is really a good technology breakthrough in the direction of what is being touted for many years as Wearable computers. With the image directly appearing on retina the perception will be much better . This like those tiny earphones used in years which give a much better and natural hearing experience compared to the music blared out by the outside speakers