Bionic contact lens
Bionic contact lenses are being developed to provide a virtual display that could have a variety of uses from assisting the visually impaired to the video game industry. The device will have the form of a conventional contact lens with added bionics technology in the form of Augmented Reality, with functional electronic circuits and infrared lights to create a virtual display. Babak Parviz, a University of Washington assistant professor of electrical engineering is quoted as saying "Looking through a completed lens, you would see what the display is generating superimposed on the world outside.”
The lenses require organic materials that are biologically safe and also use inorganic material for the electronic circuits. The electronic circuits are built from a layer of metal a few nanometres thick. The light-emitting diodes are one third of a millimetre across. A grey powder is sprinkled onto the lens. Then a technique called microfabrication or 'self-assembly' is used to shape each tiny component. Capillary forces pull the pieces into their final position.
Harvey Ho, a former graduate student of Parviz who worked at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California presented the results in January 2008 at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' International Conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (or microbotics) in Tucson, Arizona. The lens is expected to have more electronics and capabilities on the areas where the eye does not see. Wireless communication, radio frequency power transmission and solar cells are expected in future developments.
Prototype and testing
In 2011, scientists created and successfully tested a functioning prototype with a wireless antenna and a single-pixel display.
Previous prototypes proved that it is possible to create a biologically safe electronic lens that does not obstruct a person’s view. Engineers have tested the finished lenses on rabbits for up to 20 minutes and the animals showed no problems.
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