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Displays Toys Science Technology

Bionic Contact Lens May Lead to Overlay Displays 213

pfman writes "A University of Washington researcher has developed a contact lens including circuitry and a matrix of LEDs. Although not yet a working prototype, this may be a foundation for terminator/robocop style overlay displays in which computer graphics could be superimposed on your normal vision. 'Building the lenses was a challenge because materials that are safe for use in the body, such as the flexible organic materials used in contact lenses, are delicate. Manufacturing electrical circuits, however, involves inorganic materials, scorching temperatures and toxic chemicals. Researchers built the circuits from layers of metal only a few nanometers thick, about one thousandth the width of a human hair, and constructed light-emitting diodes one third of a millimeter across.'" Kotaku notes that this has some obvious gaming implications.
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Bionic Contact Lens May Lead to Overlay Displays

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  • Do the Math (Score:4, Interesting)

    by crrkrieger ( 160555 ) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:46PM (#22084090)
    Let's see, LEDs 1/3 mm across. My pupil is about 5mm, so that gives me a resolution of about 15 pixels across. Not so good, especially considering that to get that 15 pixels I would have to block everything else!
  • Re:Um, what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jack9 ( 11421 ) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:47PM (#22084102)
    You're assuming we can't make better eyes to match the technology (by the time the technology is implemented).
  • Re:Do the Math (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CaptainPatent ( 1087643 ) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:50PM (#22084126) Journal
    Additionally, the human eye was not meant to focus on something just a couple of mm in front of it.

    Go ahead, try it! You simply cannot focus that close to your eye.
  • yuck! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:55PM (#22084196)
    What about those of us who are squicked by the thought of anything getting near our eyes, let alone contact lenses?

    While I have no expertise in the field, I've always assumed that we'd first see this with glasses. The classic HUD on aircraft is an image projected onto glass in the pilot's line of sight. I figured we'd see this when we either had a) some sort of transparent material with a tiny lcd grid so that wireframe graphics could be overlaid on the real world objects or b) VR goggles scaled down to the size of comfortable glasses with the world projected inside with the overlays on top.

    The one other variant I could think of for a projector technology would be glasses with a tiny low-power laser tracking the retina and beaming photons into it.

    Thinking about VR, though, it does make you wonder about the interrogation potential for completely controlling someone's environment. If you thought the Ministry was scary in 1984, just imagine the interrogator controlling your entire reality. There was actually a surprisingly good TNG episode where Riker was put through VR interrogation so that he would reveal something important. Each of those constructed realities seemed entirely convincing at first but as he started to find flaws, the reality would shatter and be replaced by something new. Scary.
  • by JesseL ( 107722 ) * on Thursday January 17, 2008 @04:02PM (#22084310) Homepage Journal
    My Acuvue contacts don't seem particularly unsafe. If they can make display contacts comparable to what I'm wearing now I'd give them a shot. If there are attached wires or too much wattage involved, I'll pass...
  • Re:Two Questions: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alwin Henseler ( 640539 ) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @04:25PM (#22084612)

    RE: First: How are they envisioning powering a device like this?
    by the picture of the lens I would say wires.

    Yes, and judging from the picture: multiple wires. But why, really? Wouldn't a single wire be enough? Place a contact pad elsewhere on the body, or use a conductive housing for the device connected to that single wire, and have it touch the body directly. That way you'd have the wire, and use the body/eyeball as return path for an electric current. Then superimpose a high frequency signal for data transmission.

    Other options:
    • Short-wave electromagnetic waves (a la RFID)
    • Some sort of tranparent (non toxic!) materials layered in between to form a low-power battery
    • Shine infrared on the lens, use resulting temperature difference between outside and eye-side for thermo-electric power supply?
    Just fantasizing offcourse...
  • by corsec67 ( 627446 ) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @04:34PM (#22084738) Homepage Journal
    The second app would be projecting a nude body onto everyone, or onto selected genders, with options for body type and when to do it.....
  • Re:Um, what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mOdQuArK! ( 87332 ) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @04:36PM (#22084778)
    Even adult brains have quite a bit of flexibility when exposed to additional or replaced sensory information. It might take some training, but there's no fundamental biological reason why adding artificial sensors to our own biological senses couldn't be handled by the brain.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 17, 2008 @05:06PM (#22085250)
    I just want a view that has every person's name floating over them so I never have to remember anyone's name ever again.
  • Re:Um, what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @05:22PM (#22085448) Homepage
    No, not a scrolling marquee. Imagine a graphic in the lower-right section of your FOV. If your eye stays still, so does it. If you shift your eye to the lower-right, the graphic would scroll to the center of the display. It could be made to appear as if you were looking around a full static display.
  • Issues (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PhotoGuy ( 189467 ) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @05:37PM (#22085690) Homepage
    At first, I was thinking that focus would be the main issue, since the middle of your lens is where all the light rays from the external world cross at an almost-point. Being so close to that (on the cornea), this lens might have focus issues.

    But maybe not. All it really has to do is put incredibly small pixels there to colour (or obscure) the light from a given point. As long as pixels don't overlap too much (when out of focus), it could work.

    I will be interesting to see how this develops further.

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