One Per Cent: Electronic contact lens displays pixels on the eyes

The future of augmented-reality technology is here – as long as you’re a rabbit. Bioengineers have placed the first contact lenses containing electronic displays into the eyes of rabbits as a first step on the way to proving they are safe for humans. The bunnies suffered no ill effects, the researchers say.

The first version may only have one pixel, but higher resolution lens displays – like those seen in Terminator – could one day be used as satnav enhancers showing you directional arrows for example, or flash up texts and emails – perhaps even video. In the shorter term, the breakthrough also means people suffering from conditions like diabetes and glaucoma may find they have a novel way to monitor their conditions.

In February, New Scientist revealed the litany of research projects underway in the field of contact lens enhancement. While one company has fielded a contact lens technology using a surface-mounted strain gauge to assess glaucoma risk, none have built in a display, or the lenses needed for focused projection onto the retina – and then tested it in vivo. They have now.

“We have demonstrated the operation of a contact lens display powered by a remote radiofrequency transmitter in free space and on a live rabbit,” says a US and Finnish team led by Babak Praviz of the University of Washington in Seattle.

“This verifies that antennas, radio chips, control circuitry, and micrometre-scale light sources can be integrated into a contact lens and operated on live eyes.”

via One Per Cent: Electronic contact lens displays pixels on the eyes.

Now, to just make these things work with the Raspberry Pi, and get a nice easy to use portable input device for it, and we’re most of the way there to wearable computers. I have to say, I’m a little worried about playing high-res first person shooters on my retina…

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