Terminator-style lenses a step closer

Thursday, 24 November 2011 Alyssa Danigelis Discovery News


computerised lens

The lens is currently made from a hard plastic that doesn’t allow airflow to the eye, limiting usage to only a few minutes (Source: University of Washington)

Terminator lenses The latest steps in the development of a computerised contact lens that could be used for navigation, health monitoring or even to sneak access to information, has been unveiled by US researchers.

A paper describing the lens appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering.

“Some day maybe we’ll have full-fledged streaming in your contact lenses,” says co-author Associate Professor Babak Amir Parviz, from electrical engineering at the University of Washington (UW).

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.

He collaborated on the device with UW ophthalmologist Tueng Shen and researchers from Aalto University in Finland led by optoelectronics professor Dr Markku Sopanen.

Parviz’s group specialises in incorporating miniaturised devices into unconventional materials and has been working on functional contact lenses for a while, he says.

“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 centre 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

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