Displays on contact lenses

Written by: Tom Shelley | Published:

Electronic displays built into contact lenses could in a few years be providing head up capabilities to both soldiers and motorists

Researchers at the University of Washington in the US have succeeded in imprinting an electronic circuit and LEDs on a flexible, biologically safe contact lens.
"Looking through a completed lens, you would see what the display is generating superimposed on the world outside," explained Babak Parviz, assistant professor of electrical engineering. "This is a very small step toward that goal, but I think it's extremely promising."

Drivers could see essential information, such as speed, or an image derived from a fog penetrating infra red camera projected onto the scene in front of them. Games players could be completely immersed in their virtual world without restricting their range of motion. And people on the go could surf the Internet on a screen that only they could see.
The prototype device contains a circuit and red LEDs though it does not yet light up. The lenses were tested on rabbits for up to 20 minutes and the animals showed no adverse effects.

Researchers built the circuits from layers of metal only a few nm thick, and constructed LEDs 1/3 mm across. They then sprinkled the greyish powder of electrical components onto a sheet of flexible plastic. The shape of each component dictated which piece it could attach to, a microfabrication technique known as self-assembly. Capillary forces pulled the pieces into position.


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