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Terminator eyes: why we may soon be able to see like cyborgs

Glenda Kwek (SMH) | Nov. 25, 2011
We may soon be able to see like Terminator cyborgs, with US researchers developing contact lenses that can project images in front of your eyes.

We may soon be able to see like Terminator cyborgs, with US researchers developing contact lenses that can project images in front of your eyes.

With the technology, called "wearable computing", users could put on the contact lenses and read a range of information, including emails, health alerts, cues from navigations systems and even prompts from video games.

The scientists, from the University of Washington and Aalto University in Finland, have so far been able to control a single pixel on the contact lens, and hope to increase the range of pixels and colours displayed on the lens.

Bionic eyes.

But they added in a paper published in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering yesterday that, if the contact lens displays were successful, "they would fundamentally change the nature of interaction between humans and visual information".

The researchers added: "Although high resolution, full-colour, stand-alone contact lens displays might be many years away, the technological demonstrations to date depict a clear path containing a number of useful intermediate devices that can be feasibly produced in the near to medium terms."

Lead researcher Professor Babak Parviz told smh.com.au he and his team "have demonstrated that contact lenses can be built that include very small radios, light sources, antennas, control circuits, and sensors".

Bionic eyes

"We have shown that a contact lens can be powered by radio waves on a live eye."

The wirelessly powered contact lens - which consists of an antenna, a microchip, insulation layers and a sapphire chip - is powered from about one-metre away.

However, it needs to be powered from just two centimetres away when placed in the eye of a live rabbit.

The lens has so far been tested on live, anaesthetised rabbits "with no observed adverse effect", the researchers said.

The researchers said the challenges ahead included finding ways to better power the wireless device, making sure the lens was biocompatible, integrating all the mechanical and electrical components on such a small surface, and allowing for human eyes - which focus at a minimum distance of a few centimetres away - to clearly see the information displayed on the lens.

 

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