The contact lenses of tomorrow

American scientists developed a contact lens built with technological properties, supplied by a network of electronic circuits. The breakthrough by the engineers of the University of Washington, in the United States, was characterized by advanced techniques of manufacturing combining a reliable and flexible contact lens to a network of electronic circuits and lights. The result is not so far from science-fiction. A prototype was tested on rabbits during periods of twenty minutes without side effects. Regrettably, the red lights allowing a display of data did not work, to the great displeasure of the researchers who plan to power these lenses by a tandem of solar cells and radio frequencies.

The big part of the eye beyond the transparent portion would be used to place the electronics, preventing an obstruction of the vision - circuits are created by layers of metal the width of which amounts to a thousandth of human hair with a thickness estimated at some nanometers. A powder of electrical components was then sprinkled onto a flexible plastic sheet and capillary forces combined with the design of the electrical components in the powder being built to only connect one way constructs the components via self-assembly.

The application of such lenses would touch several domains. They would serve as simple tools to show data by piloting a plane or by driving an automobile or, such as described by the university researchers, would allow the soldiers to cross zones like if they were part of a video game. According to the professor Babak Parviz, associated in electrotechnics with the University of Washington, “Looking through a completed lens, you would see what the display is generating superimposed on the world outside. This is a very small step toward that goal, but I think it’s extremely promising.” [Source: Dailytech]


-  Michael Bertiaux

 [January 23, 2008]

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