Bionic contact lenses are being developed to provide a virtual display that could have a variety of uses from assisting the visually impaired to the video game industry. The device will have the form of a conventional contact lens with added bionics technology. The lens will eventually have functional electronic circuits and infrared lights to create a virtual display.
Babak Parviz, a University of Washington assistant professor of electrical engineering is quoted as saying "Looking through a completed lens, you would see what the display is generating superimposed on the world outside.”
The test lens was powered remotely using a 5-millimetre-long antenna printed on the lens to receive gigahertz-range radio-frequency energy from a transmitter placed ten centimetres from the rabbit's eye. To focus the light on the rabbit's retina, the contact lens itself was fabricated as a Fresnel lens - in which a series of concentric annular sections is used to generate the ultrashort focal length needed.
They found their lens LED glowed brightly up to a metre away from the radio source in free space, but needed to be 2 centimetres away when the lens was placed in a rabbit's eye and the wireless reception was affected by body fluids. All the 40-minute-long tests on live rabbits were performed under general anaesthetic and showed that the display worked well - and fluroescence tests showed no damage or abrasions to the rabbit's eyes after the lenses were removed.