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Wednesday, 02 September 2009 10:41

Contact lenses go Terminator

Written by Nick Farell

Image

Data to join sight


In the
Terminator movies, the audience was treated to a sight of a robot's eye view of the world with data over laid with normal vision. (I thought that was Arnold's normal vision. sub.ed.)

Of course one has to wonder what a view was for. After all Arnold Schwarzenegger would have not needed a visual display of his commands, but apparently the appeal of mixing data and vision as sparked boffins to come up with an idea that is similar. A contact lens with simple built-in electronics is close to being built.

Boffin Babak A. Parviz has been testing one on himself and his students. While he admits that they don't give him the vision of an eagle or the benefit of running subtitles on our surroundings yet. But he has built a lens with one LED, which we’ve powered wirelessly with RF.

While conventional contact lenses are polymers formed in specific shapes to correct faulty vision. 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. Eventually such components will have hundreds of LEDs, which will form images in front of the eye, such as words, charts, and photographs.

The hardware is semitransparent so that wearers can navigate their surroundings without crashing into them or becoming disoriented. The plan is to have a separate, portable device will relay displayable information to the lens’s control circuit, which will operate the optoelectronics in the lens. One of the biggest problems is having a power source. Batteries are hard to miniaturize to this extent, require recharging, and if a lithium ions battery explodes in your eye it might smart a bit.

Parviz is currently trying to work out a method of solar power, which is good if you don't ever shut your eyes or spend too much time indoors.

More here.

Nick Farell

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