Image Projecting Contact Lenses

Posted on: November 23, 2011

A labeled photo shows the LED, antenna, and integrated circuit embedded in a plastic contact lens.

  • Contact lenses that project digital images in front of the eyes have passed an important test, according to a team of Washington University researchers working on technology that could someday allow wearers to read floating messages and otherwise enjoy the fruits of augmented reality.
  • The early returns suggest that James Cameron’s Terminator is lapping the field as the go-to analogy in news reports on a development that seems straight out of science fiction. But Watership Down might also be appropriate—the first successful tests of the prototype cyber lenses were done on rabbits, lead researcher Babak Parviz said.
  • Those prototypes are fairly crude, possessing microcircuitry and a single light-emitting diode that’s only capable of projecting about a pixel of visual data in front of the eye. But the team hopes to build lenses that can project hundreds of pixels “to produce complex holographic images,” according to the BBC.
  • Aside from being able to view text messages via the lenses, the technology could eventually allow for many more augmented experiences ranging from the practical (think data about restaurants and shops popping up as you walk down the street) to the entertaining (think of the gaming possibilities).

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