Tuesday, November 22, 2011

LED-equiped Contact Lenses Could Give Us Terminator Vision

Researchers have recently tested a new type of contact lens that is equipped with a single LED and have been able to conclude that it caused no adverse affects to the user.  This conclusion can open up the possibility of projecting information directly into the user's eye thus eliminating the need for a traditional display.  This evolution of a Heads-Up Display (HUD) could not only be used to display information but could also potentially enhance the vision of the user in a way that goes beyond the traditional use for contact lenses.  Think of the vision that the cyborg had in The Terminator as an inspiration and possibility of what could be possible.  More information after the jump.

How can this be used for the disabled community?  Think about the people with significant vision or reading difficulties and how images can be enhanced or reconfigured so that it is easier for the user to perform normal tasks.  This technology could display this information in real time with the user appearing no different than anybody else.  Others who have limited mobility and have difficulty at certain displays, such as a powerchair's display or a respiratory device, can simply have the display projected into the lens. Individuals who have poor night vision can have their vision augmented and displayed making nighttime outings easier.  There are a number of possible applications that this technology can be used for; however, there are still a few problems that still need to be addressed.

The main problem, like so many of these ultra-thin technology ideas, is the power source. Current implementations used a wireless battery, but it cannot be more than a few centimeters away. Thankfully another possible hurdle to potential eyeball-mounted displays, the fact that your eye can't normally focus on something actually on its surface, was solved by a collaboration with engineers from Aalto University in Finland. The team managed to use the material of the lens to modify the focal length of the eye, a bit like a traditional contact lens does, allowing you to focus on the lens display itself.

More information can be found in this article from the BBC.

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