MIT Technology Review
For those who find Google Glass indiscreet, electronic contact lenses that outfit the user’s cornea with a display may one day provide an alternative. Built by researchers at several institutions, including two research arms of Samsung, the lenses use new nanomaterials to solve some of the problems that have made contact-lens displays less than practical.
A group led by Jang-Ung Park, a chemical engineer at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, mounted a light-emitting diode on an off-the-shelf soft contact lens, using a material the researchers developed: a transparent, highly conductive, and stretchy mix of graphene and silver nanowires. The researchers tested these lenses in rabbits—whose eyes are similar in size to humans’—and found no ill effects after five hours. The animals didn’t rub their eyes or grow bloodshot, and the electronics kept working. This work is described online in the journal Nano Letters.
A handful of companies and researchers have developed electronic contact lenses over the past five years. Sensimed, of Switzerland, makes a lens for 24-hour monitoring of eye pressure in glaucoma patients, and other researchers, including University of Washington professor and Google Glass project founder Babak Parviz, have built contact-lens displays. But these devices have used rigid or nontransparent materials.
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