Computer Generated Eye Lenses
Scientists at the University of Washington in the United States are developing smart contact lenses that allow augmented vision.
The computer generated contact lenses should eventually allow the user to surf on the internet, use the lens for enhanced vision and be able to project images from other devices(PC, TV, smartphone) on the eye.
The key to the creation of the specialized lenses are a set of tiny nano particles on the lens. This makes it possible to show information to the eye without blocking the vision of the lens. The possibilities of the lens are widespread, the lenses could take the virtual world of video gaming to a new level, drivers could wear them to see journey directions or their vehicle’s speed projected onto the windscreen. They could even provide up-to-date medical information like blood sugar levels by linking to biosensors in the wearer’s body.
Lead researcher Professor Babak Parviz said: “Our next goal is to incorporate some predetermined text in the contact lens.” He said his team had already overcome some major breakthroughs, which is getting the human eye to focus on an image generated on its surface. Normally we only see objects clearly if they are held several centimetres away from the eye.
The scientists, working with colleagues at Aalto University in Finland, have now adapted the lenses to shorten the focal distance. Building the end product was a challenge because materials used to make conventional contact lenses are delicate. Manufacturing electrical circuits, however, involves inorganic materials, scorching temperatures and toxic chemicals. Researchers built the circuits from layers of metal only a few nanometres thick, about one thousandth the width of a human hair, and constructed light-emitting diodes measuring one third of a millimetre across.
Dr Parviz and his team are not the only scientists working on this type of technology. A Swiss company called Sensimed has already brought to market a smart contact lens that uses inbuilt computer technology to monitor pressure inside the eye to keep tabs on the eye condition glaucoma.