By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Healthcare
A new generation of contact lenses built with tiny circuits and LEDs could make bionic eyesight a reality.
Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have created contact lenses with built-in electronics and an LED, powered wirelessly by RF.
"These lenses don’t give us the vision of an eagle or the benefit of running subtitles on our surroundings yet," University of Washington professor Babak Parviz writes in IEEE Spectrum. "What we’ve done so far barely hints at what will soon be possible with this technology."
While conventional contact lenses are polymers formed in various shapes to correct faulty vision, electronic contact lenses are far more "engineered."
To turn such a lens into a functional system, we integrate control circuits, communication circuits, and miniature antennas into the lens using custom-built optoelectronic components. Those components will eventually include hundreds of LEDs, which will form images in front of the eye, such as words, charts, and photographs. Much of the hardware is semitransparent so that wearers can navigate their surroundings without crashing into them or becoming disoriented. In all likelihood, a separate, portable device will relay displayable information to the lens’s control circuit, which will operate the optoelectronics in the lens.
The potential for the development is far-reaching, from healthcare (noninvasive health indicators, such as reporting blood sugar levels for diabetic users) to computer gaming, translation to navigation.
Even the Internet is possible, Parviz writes:
"With basic image processing and Internet access, a contact-lens display could unlock whole new worlds of visual information, unfettered by the constraints of a physical display."
But the initial road is for health purposes, such as the aformentioned biosensors:
Contact lenses are worn daily by more than a hundred million people, and they are one of the only disposable, mass-market products that remain in contact, through fluids, with the interior of the body for an extended period of time. When you get a blood test, your doctor is probably measuring many of the same biomarkers that are found in the live cells on the surface of your eye—and in concentrations that correlate closely with the levels in your bloodstream. An appropriately configured contact lens could monitor cholesterol, sodium, and potassium levels, to name a few potential targets. Coupled with a wireless data transmitter, the lens could relay information to medics or nurses instantly, without needles or laboratory chemistry, and with a much lower chance of mix-ups.
There are still hurdles. First, mass production has proved difficult, since the processes for building individual systems for the electronic contact lens are incompatible -- they can't be manufactured directly on the lens.
Second, all the key components of the lens need to be miniaturized and integrated onto just 1.5 square centimeters of a flexible, transparent polymer.
Finally, the entire device needs to be safe for the eye -- difficult, since most red LEDs are made of a toxic material.
The team has produced lenses that can accommodate an 8-by-8 array of LED, but Parviz writes that the team is already looking into using passive pixels, which would significantly reduce power draw.
Sep 2, 2009
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This is where we need to be headed. if we combine iris recognition with direct thought corroboration for security. This becomes the platform for interacting with the Web.
Your thinking too small, seeing far is just the start. imagine when these are actuall screens. I think this is going to change everything. imagine the possibilities, a HUD when you are walking down the street, augmented reality maps would be like you are in the map, watching 3D would be like you are there, because 3D can only go as far as the side of the screen lets it, but with these "screen lenses" the edge of the screen is your peripheral vision so you would be completely engulfed in the film. Maps for drivers (no need to take your eyes off the road), HUD for gamers, soldiers,surgeons, there is knowone that this tecnology wouldn't benafit. Plus, contact lenses are on your eyes, so theoretically when you shut your eyes you could still see the screen. Therfor you could have information beamed into your head as you sleep. You could effectivley learn subconsciously. Or by selecting images beforehand, you could choose what you are going to dream about. This technology is just getting started and i for one am going to be at the front of the queue when these thing are available to buy.
I already see potential uses for this that are not good. For example, what would prevent someone or group from transmitting mis-information to you via your electronic contact lens? I could see this being done on a mass such that someone could cause all sorts of confusion and mass hysteria by simply transmitting a higher watt signal over a large group or area. On the other hand, it could be a great way to control large groups of people, preventing riots and mobs by transmitting some hypnotic suggestions directly to their eye's thus maintaining mass control. Talk about big brother....
Sounds promising for a lot of useful medical, automotive, and opthalmological purposes. Cold weather climates, underwater uses, and potential diagnostic tools; such as treating brain tumors, and brain damage. Possibly correcting brain problems such as Alzheimer's, and so many other conditions; blindness, or amnesia. Learning how the mind works. Maybe linking with MRI's in diagnosing the brain, as long as the MRI could be minimized to a helmet.
What are you doing with that poor rabbits eye!? like it can tell you how the field of vision it can see or how it works, has a person tried it? wearing contacts is annoying and expensive, even daily contacts, I can see this as only temporary usefulness for the wealthy.
What's so scary about electronic contact lenses? People already have computers in their body, and they are not the least frightened of them, on the contrary, they wouldn't want to be without them. Who are these people you may ask. People with pacemakers.
these contact lenses are revolutionary and to be able to go onto the internet from your eyes would be great. Also, actually being able to see at far distances would better equip the seeing impaired and would make for a great advantage in the military services. And powering them can be a can be a minor or big problem but being able to send some what low powered electrical waves through the body by implanting a small device in the collar bone. But by doing this you would need to cut out a small section of the bone and the putting in the device. Also you could even redesign the contact to act like a wireless mouse that goes to a computer but the moral of me using that is to describe how a wireless mouse has a flash drive that goes to a computer and just sends a signal from the mouse to the drive and you use the mouse, that's the way to redesign the contact and make a small device that acts a what I just said(wireless mouse and flash drive).And I just thought I should say this because I want a future in technology such as this and this is a great idea and I have many, many more that can help the Military,DARPA, and any other agency. So if anyone wants to know send me an email at email@example.com
Very interesting but very frightening. Will anyone ever want to put something like this in their eye? I suppose some people will but I don't like it. I have enough to contend with on my advice site as it is. Contact Lenses Without Prescription Anyway, keep us updated on this story, please.
"that remain in contact, through fluids, with the interior of the body for an extended period of time" I don't understand. Does the EXTERIOR surface of the eye somehow count as the INTERIOR of the body ?
If I cannot focus on something 10cm from my face, how can something touching the eye be seen clearly? I have seen a reflection of part of my eye in my glasses rather clearly. Perhaps that reflection could allow images to be seen. But without glasses?
Multipurpose contact lens solutions have been linked to a condition that irritates the cornea: http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/12159#more-12159
It would be cool also to take the needed power from light (kind of like solar watches), directly from the eye (bio-currents) or based on the temperature difference between eye and the external environment.
You know they thought the only purpose for images to be seen miles away was security reasons? Like a bank? Who could predict we would have a thousand channels?
1. The heat from RF is SOOO small you couldn't feel it. 2. The candle power of LED at close range (touching your eye) needs to be brought down so that it does not blind you. Again, very little power. 3. Zapping your eyes? Look at Tesla in his day. Low amps and low volts pose no danger to your eyes. Benefits: No eagle vision yet but pretty soon we will.We're talking Geordie La'Forge stuff here.
Anyone doing this has to realize the cornea has no way to dissipate the waste heat of the IC, LEDs and DC conversion. Active electronics can be placed in the retina, where there is plenty of heat exchange, which is being used in experimental artificial retina development. Also, zapping my eyes with an RF field large enough to power LEDs is not likely to be good for your lens. So unless this applies only to those with artificial lens replacement, I don't see the point of it.