Researchers in Switzerland and California recently created groundbreaking technology for those with vision impairments: contact lenses containing tiny telescopes. Phys.org reports the details.
Like something out of a spy movie, the wearer activates the telescope’s magnification by winking. Winking with the right eye activates the zooming, and deactivates the lenses by winking with the left. Blinks do not unintentionally activate the telescopes. The wink function works by tracking eye movement.
Older models required users to tilt their head to get the lenses to work. As scientists continued development, the sleeker “wink” version came to fruition. The functionality grows easier with each version, certainly. The only people who might have trouble are those who don’t know how to wink!
Thin in design, only 1.55 millimeters thick, the devices are very comfortable to wear. Most contact lenses are around 8 to 10 millimeters thick. Despite the size, the contact lenses magnify images at about 3 times their original size.
A vital organ of the body, the eye needs a steady supply of oxygen to function. Creating breathable lenses generated a major concern in development for the scientists. Within the lenses, but around the telescopes, reside tiny holes, only .1 millimeters wide. These holes serve as air channels to oxygenate the eye.
Despite the small size, the telescopes function very well. On the telescopes, researchers stated, “small mirrors within bounce light around, expanding the perceived size of objects and expanding the view, so it’s like looking through low magnification binoculars.”
Funding for the contact lenses comes from the Pentagon, specifically the Pentagon’s research arm, DARPA. The intended use? Superhuman vision for soldiers.
However, less advanced versions will be made available to those with vision loss. Those with age-related vision will derive the greatest benefit from telescopic lenses.
First released in 2013, the devices remain in the research stage. Hopefully the technology will soon reach market, offering its benefit to those with impairments.
Wink activated contact lens telescopes trail blaze the future of eye wear technology. Although only used by soldiers and the vision impaired, in the not too distant future everyone will take advantage of the tech.
As lenses become more comfortable and sleek in design and functionality, such devices will eventually be used by everyone. As wearable technology takes off in society, more funding and technology will develop.
Contact lenses were designed to correct vision without having to wear glasses. These contact lenses are for “telescopes”, but as technology booms forward, we will be seeing “computer” contact lenses.
The “wink” activation function advanced by the Pentagon’s research, will eventually be used for the “computerized” lenses of the future. The exciting development of the lenses is a huge leap forward in the realm of wearable technology worldwide.
Although computers are still too big to be put on a contact lens, telescopes used to be much larger and bulkier. As smartphones become smaller and better designed, we get closer to wearable computers, activated by the wink of an eye.
Tell us in the comments how you would use contact lenses with telescopes!