Terminator-style info-vision takes step towards reality

Nov 21, 2011
Terminator-style info-vision takes step towards reality

The streaming of real-time information across your field of vision is a step closer to reality with the development of a prototype contact lens that could potentially provide the wearer with hands-free information updates.

In a study published today in IOP's Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, researchers constructed a computerised and demonstrated its safety by testing it on live eyes. There were no signs of .

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 before your eyes.

The device could overlay computer-generated on to the real world and be of use in gaming devices and . It could also be linked to biosensors in the user's body to provide up-to-date information on glucose or lactate levels.

The contact lens, created by researchers at the University of Washington and Aalto University, Finland, consisted of an antenna to harvest power sent out by an external source, as well as an integrated circuit to store this energy and transfer it to a transparent sapphire chip containing a single blue LED.

One major problem the researchers had to overcome was the fact that the , 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 .

After testing the contact lens in , 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.

After demonstrating the operation and safety of the contact, the researchers state that significant improvements are necessary to produce fully functional, remotely powered, high-resolution displays. For instance, the device could be wirelessly powered in free space from approximately one metre away, but this was reduced to about two centimetres when placed on the rabbit's eye.

Co-author of the study, Professor Babak Praviz, said "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.

"Our next goal, however, is to incorporate some predetermined text in the contact lens."

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More information: ‘A single-pixel wireless contact lens display’, Lingley A R et al 2011 J. Micromech. Microeng. 21 125014 iopscience.iop.org/0960-1317/21/12/125014

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User comments : 13

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gwrede
5 / 5 (4) Nov 21, 2011
I would prefer goggles.
bredmond
not rated yet Nov 21, 2011
This will be great when I go to take the GRE exam.
E_W
5 / 5 (1) Nov 21, 2011
Presumably the target market for these is the military. A hurdle for sales to that market is that currently contact lens use while deployed is banned by the US Army because of the risks of infection, chemical agents being trapped by the contact lens, and fire melting contact lenses to the eye.

I always thought that something like a hockey half visor would be awesome for a combat helmet. This kind of system with that would be awesome. I think that's the kind of thing pilot helmets have now.

Although this may be more aimed at the civilian market where the unobtrusive nature of contact lenses would likely be preferred.
RayW
not rated yet Nov 21, 2011
Remotely powered = wearing a bullseye.
Isaacsname
not rated yet Nov 22, 2011
I could always use a stock ticker scrolling across my field of vision.
Aloken
5 / 5 (1) Nov 22, 2011
Googles/glasses would be somewhat better. More space for pixels and other components, could be integrated into helmets and/or easily connected to a processing unit and battery located somewhere else such as the wearers clothing. But that's not difficult with current tech. What we want are AR glasses that can overlay computer generated text and indicators on real objects and people but those come with a whole new set of challenges to overcome.
El_Nose
not rated yet Nov 22, 2011
I have a slight fear of wearing an radiating device on my eyes... I use a cell phopne and have multiple gadgets -- and the technology sounds awesome and cool - but I don;t know about wearing a computer on my eyes ... sounds like cancer waiting to happen.

I am not all Doom and gloom though --once the pixel density gets good enough we are talking IR (or UV vision - is that even useful) anytime you need it. Acurate distancing to target - Tiger Woods here we come -- or vision enhancement such as zooming in on a target -- speaking of IR if used or hacked well these could see through clothes much like the first cameras that has night vision. And great augmented reality information -- the Japanese would go crazy for this.

And if it gets hacked you can just through away your contacts and buy a new pair and stop looking a tthose dirty pictures that carry visual viruses -- oh now thats a thought...
_nigmatic10
not rated yet Nov 22, 2011
Gee.. was a couple of weeks ago some of the critics that frequent this site were shooting down this very idea. How the world turns.
Isaacsname
5 / 5 (1) Nov 22, 2011
This could get interesting. We could file our friends and conversations away, bring them up when we meet again, right where we left off, our integrated system could visually recognize people we've interacted with, project a label or text onto them. Or link up with a friend at the coffee shop and share digital snapshots through our contacts, hell, at some point, I would think they'll be able to integrate a camera into these, mentally interfaced, you just blink to take a photo.

Still though, AR in public is going to be strange, just like when bluetooth headsets came out, I started wondering where all the schizo's came from suddenly...I didn't realize they were talking on the phone. I would think that to a non-user of AR standing in a room full of people using AR, it's going to look mighty strange o,O
ScienceFreak86
not rated yet Nov 22, 2011
1 pixel....(in 2011) I'm not impressed, thet should write about it, when they develop a descent prototype with at least 100 pixels

I hope that we will have HD resolution in lenses screens before 2020
droid001
not rated yet Nov 22, 2011
contact lens? What a old tech
We need entire eyes with zoom and filming capabilities.
Nerdyguy
not rated yet Nov 22, 2011
Eventually, this kind of thing will be integrated into the human animal on a regular basis. I don't think that's much of a stretch. Just a question of "when" more than anything.

Can you imagine the fun that some kids (often early adopters) will have with this before it catches on? Cheating on tests (mentioned above) will probably be rampant for a short time before the staff starts to figure it out. Then there will be some interesting social changes.
bughunter
5 / 5 (1) Nov 23, 2011
For an idea of how these kinds of contact lens displays could be applied to augmented reality, etc., go read Vernor Vinge's "Rainbow's End." Excellent read anyway, but Vinge speculates how something like this might transform mobile computing...

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