Eye Don't Know

November 25, 2011

Rheanna Sand


Loyal fans of Science in Seconds might know that I suffer from possibly the only known case of ommetavelumiphobia in existence. Okay, so I made up the term, but the fear of passing umbrella spokes catching my eyelids really does invade my psyche on rainy days. Good thing I don't live in Vancouver, I suppose.

I trace this fear back to my youth, when, as a rambunctious 8-year-old, I sliced my right eyelid open on a broken piece of jungle gym in the elementary schoolyard. Two nurses and a doctor had to hold me down to put the needle in my eye to freeze the area. Let me say it again: THEY STUCK A NEEDLE IN MY EYE. When I was 8.

So it should be no surprise that contact lenses give me the heebie jeebies. Luckily, I have 20/20 vision and don't have to deal with them, but reading a story this week from the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering makes me rethink the little slimy eye-scratchers.

Professor Babak Parviz and colleagues have invented a contact lens capable of projecting a single pixel to the wearer, made of eye-safe materials and powered wirelessly through an antenna (pdf for the geeks here). They've been working on embedding electrical circuits into lenses since at least 2008, but only now have developed the nanometer-scale wires and diodes that are small enough to not cause eye damage. They also used something called a Fresnel lens to trick your brain into thinking the image is far away. The next steps? Shrinking the LED's to create a multi-pixel display.


Great, but how many pixels until we can watch porn?

Just think - we could be a futuristic society of electronic zombies with our heads UP, not down! Better to watch out for those umbrella spokes, anyway.



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