New technology that will allow information, such as text messages from a mobile phone, to be projected onto a contact lens worn in the human eye has been developed by Belgian researchers.
Ghent University’s centre of microsystems technology has developed a spherical curved LCD display which can be embedded in contact lenses and handle projected images using wireless technology.
“Now that we have established the basic technology, we can start working towards real applications, possibly available in only a few years,” said Professor Herbert De Smet.
Unlike previous contact lens displays, which are limited to a few small pixels to make up an image, the new technology allows the whole curved surface of the lens to be used.
One application suggested by the researchers is a “one pixel, fully covered contact lens acting as adaptable sunglasses”.
“This is not science fiction,” said Jelle De Smet, the chief researcher on the project, who believes commercial applications for the lenses will be available within five years.
“This will never replace the cinema screen for films. But for specific applications it may be interesting to show images such as road directions or projecting text messages from our smart phones straight to our eye.”
The innovation is the first step towards “fully pixelated contact lens displays” with the same detail as a television screen.
The lenses could also be used for medical purposes, for example to control the light transmission toward the eye’s retina in case of a damaged iris.
For cosmetic purposes, the lens could be used the iris of the eye a tuneable colour, allowing the user to change it to suit their mood.