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Bionic Vision

Tue, 12/22/2009 - 4:52am
Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog

Micro Machines and Opto-Electronics on a Contact Lense

Fiction now meets reality with prototype contact lenses developed by Babak Parviz at the University of Washington, in Seattle. Dr. Parviz’s prototype lenses can be used as biosensors to display body chemistry or as a heads up display (HUD). Powered by radio waves and 330 microwatts of power from a loop antenna that picks up power beamed from nearby radio sources, future versions will also be able to harvest power from a cell phone.

In his early 2008 lab tests, rabbits safely wore contact lenses with metal connectors for electronic circuits. The prototype lenses contained an electric circuit as well as red light-emitting diodes for a display. The lenses were tested on rabbits for up to 20 minutes and the animals showed no adverse effects.

Contact lenses as replacements for smart phone displays — even to monitor blood glucose levels — might best be done while not operating heavy equipment. “The true promise of this research is not just the actual system we end up making, whether it’s a display, a biosensor, or both,” comments Dr. Parviz. “We already see a future in which the humble contact lens becomes a real platform, like the iPhone is today, with lots of developers contributing their ideas and inventions. As far as we’re concerned, the possibilities extend as far as the eye can see, and beyond.”

Related: A Journey Into the Human Eye3-D Images of EyesScientists Discover How Our Eyes Focus When We Read

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