The ongoing work with opto-electronic contact lenses taking place at the University of Washington in Seattle. The lab there has been showing off the latest prototype, a tiny computer including an LED embedded into a contact lens that receives 330 microwatts of power wirelessly from a nearby RF transmitter. Dr. Babak Parviz has been using the prototypes to display biosensor feedback about the wearer’s vital signs. The wireless power is picked up by a loop antenna built into the lens, and future iterations of the hardware are expected to integrate the transmitter into a cellphone.

Conventional contact lenses are polymers formed in specific shapes to correct faulty vision. Parviz turned  a lens into a functional system, integrated control circuits, communication circuits, and miniature antennas into the lens using custom-built optoelectronic components. Those components will eventually include hundreds of LEDs, which will form images in front of the eye, such as words, charts, and photographs. Much of the hardware is semitransparent so that wearers can navigate their around their surroundings. Future plans see the opto-electronic lenses being used for more than just displaying data; they’ll also be able to monitor the eye’s surface chemistry, which would allow wearable computers to keep track on blood sugar levels in diabetics and other information.  Parviz’s eventual goal is the contact lens becoming a platform “like the iPhone is today”, with developers creating custom apps.

How long will it be before we have the first “Android?”


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  5. […] As it stands now we (artists/designers/thinkers/philosophers) are merely playing in the sandbox.  As so poignantly suggested by the futurist Charles Cage; technology has still not caught up with the possibilities of these augmentations upon our reality.  Only once the “screen” can be integrated within tools conformed for full immersion will this new layer be fully attainable.  Holding up your smart-phone everywhere hunting for textualizations gets old real fast.  This manifestation of integrated hardware is suggested to be right around the corner: contact lenses that function as a digital display device molded to your eyeball. […]

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