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Smart contact lenses turn diabetics into eye robots

Scientists have developed a smart contact lens that monitors your health -- and could display information right before your very eyes.

Researchers have developed a smart contact lens that monitors your health -- and could display information right before your very eyes. Contact-lens scientist Babak Parviz at the University of Washington has developed a smart lens that measures the blood sugar levels of people with diabetes.

The lens checks glucose levels in tears. It's made of polyethylene terephthalate, the plastic that bottles are made of. The PET lens has teeny-tiny electrodes that zap a small current through tear fluid, and a microelectronic chip that sends the results to a wireless device in your pocket. The device also sends power wirelessly to the lens.

A prototype was developed in 2009. Since then, the team has also developed miniature red and blue LEDs that could be embedded in lenses to display colour images.

That means the lens could display information in an augmented-reality kind of way. We'd love a contact lens that displays directions or points you to the nearest cash point, pub or bus stop, so we wouldn't have to stare at our phones as we walk around. It would save us walking into lampposts all the time.

Lenses are just one use for miniature LEDs, which can also be implanted under your skin. Heck, by 2020, we'll all have Google implants in our brains.

The downside of the smart lens is that the circuitry can be seen in your eyes, so you look like a robot. Hang on, that's no downside!

Would you wear a contact lens that displayed information right in front of your eyes? What information would you display in your head-up display?