Contact lenses have traditionally been engineered to help the visually impaired see the world around them more clearly--to attain perfect, or close to perfect, vision.
But why not super vision? Why not a lens that could superimpose holographic driving control panels over a pilot's otherwise normal view? Enable Web surfing on the go? Provide a virtual world for gamers that covers their entire field of vision instead of just a plasma screen?
Engineers at the University of Washington have been asking just that as they manufacture first-gen versions of the bionic eye in the form of contact lenses with an imprinted electronic circuit and lights.
"Conventional contact lenses are polymers formed in specific shapes to correct faulty vision," writes Babak A. Parviz, an associate professor at UW who heads a multi-disciplinary group on electronics in contact lenses, in the September 2009 issue of IEEE's Spectrum. "To turn such a lens into a functional system, we integrate 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."… Read more