New Contact Lenses Have Zoom Feature
July 3, 2013 2:41 PM
This kind of development could be useful for those with macular degeneration, where vision is lost in the central area of the retina
Put away the telescopes -- scientists are working on
a contact lens
that will let you zoom in on an area of interest using just your eye.
Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland and at the University of California, San Diego -- led by Dr. Eric Tremblay -- have developed a telescopic contact lens that allows the wearers to magnify chosen views, much like bioptic telescopes currently used in spectacles.
The lens is a bit more than a millimeter thick, and it has a central unmagnified optical path encircled by a ring of optics. Wearers switch between regular and magnified vision through liquid crystal shutters, which work by blocking certain optical paths.
The team placed the LCD shutter system into an altered pair of Samsung 3D TV glasses for the purpose of testing. On a model of the human eye, the researchers found that those using the contacts could zoom a certain view by 2.8 times.
However, the team did mention that there were problems with diffraction (when light is bent by a periodic pattern) and that the hard, plastic lenses needed to be made with a gas-permeable material so that air can hit the eye.
This kind of development could be useful for those with macular degeneration, where vision is lost in the central area of the retina.
However, some worry that people could abuse this kind of technology and use it to spy on people while the victims are unaware, since it's simply a contact lens.
A lot of focus has been placed on the eyes in the tech world, with recent creations like Google Glass providing new ways to see the world and beyond. Google Glass is a wearable computer that looks a lot like glasses, and it acts as a hands-free smartphone that is Internet-connected and responds to voice recognition as well as touch. They're sold on an application-only basis at this point, but Google is no longer accepting any more. However, recent reports state that Google Glass will sell as early as next year for $1,500 USD.
While Google has stated that it won't use privacy-threatening features like
facial recognition software
at this time, the product still raises concerns about what people may be doing with their glasses while others remain unaware.
Back in 2011, researchers at the National Environmental Research Center created a contact lens that can
display text and images
"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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