Electronic Contact Lenses Tested Successfully in Real Live Eyes

Rabbits' eyes, but still
Information In Your Eye
Information In Your Eye University of Washington

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Back in 2009, we wrote about a contact lens in the works that displayed visual feedback right before your eyes, Terminator style. Well, two years and a few months later, Professor Babak Parviz has a working model. He has given the new lens to rabbits, and reports complete success.

The device’s display has only one pixel, but serves as a working proof-of-concept for developing more complex information lenses. A useful device would need hundreds of pixels at least, to display a short email or text message.

The lens harvests energy from an external source using an antenna and has an integrated circuit to store the harvested power and transfer it to a transparent sapphire chip with a single blue LED. Unfortunately, while the range of the display was about one meter in free space, that range was reduced to about two centimeters when it was placed on the eye.

Another of the challenges facing the creation of a Terminator-style eye display is that the minimum focal distance of a human eye is only a few centimeters. This means that information displayed on a contact lens would appear blurry. To address this, the researchers used thin Fresnel lenses to magnify the display.

More research is needed before we’ll be able to read text on our eyeballs though. “We need to improve the antenna design and the associated matching network and optimize the transmission frequency to achieve an overall improvement in the range of wireless transmission,” said Parviz, co-author of the study. “Our next goal, however, is to incorporate some predetermined text in the contact lens.”