Are we moving towards Augmented Eyes?Sunday, March 27th, 2011 by Roberto Saracco
In my wandering I stumbled onto an interesting article on the New Scientist describing the result of a research conducted at the University of Washington in Seattle by Babak Parviz on embedding a microelectronic circuit in a contact lens.
He started the research a few years ago and already in 2008 he managed to insert a red led in a contact lens to demonstrate the idea of a display directly overlaying the eye.
Now he has managed to embed a sensor to detect sugar levels in people suffering from diabetes and to check for glaucoma. Glucose levels found in the tears are in direct relation with levels in the blood so their measure is of interest.
Smart contact lenses to measure glaucoma are already used by doctors. They are produced by Sensimed in Switzerland. They are used to check the tiny variations of eye pressure during the day. The sensors is powered by an antenna “glued” on the cheek. Lens are worn for 24 hours and then disposed of.
In the case of the lenses developed by Parviz they can be worn for longer periods of time and are equipped with tear analyses sensors. They have the antenna all round the periphery, has shown in the photo, and that makes it possible to establish communications directly with a device like a cell phone in a breast pocket.
In the future, this is the “vision” of Parviz, these lenses will have many thousands led embedded that can create images to overlap with what the eyes is seeing, thus providing a very effective mechanism to deliver augmented reality. The led are transparent and the image they will create will appear to float in front of your eyes.
A bit scary? May be, but I am sure there will be some niches of adoption and as time goes by who knows? These niches may become mass market. For the records: I have shown this post to my kid, 14 years old. His reaction? Cool!
Anyhow, that’s something for the next decade.