Tag Archives: contact lenses

Augmented reality contact lenses

cyborg eyeAll this talk about augmented reality is all well and good, but wandering around holding up a little rectangular gadget to see things through is hardly an elegant science fictional solution, now is it?

As a fully paid-up cyberpunk, I want everything as tightly integrated to the meat as possible – so I want my AR operating no further from me than the surface of my eyeballs. Luckily I shouldn’t have too long to wait – at least not if Babak Parviz of the University of Washington has the successes he hopes for with his augmented reality contact lens concept:

Conventional contact lenses are polymers formed in specific shapes to correct faulty vision. To turn such a lens into a functional system, we integrate control circuits, communication circuits, and miniature antennas into the lens using custom-built optoelectronic components. Those components will eventually include hundreds of LEDs, which will form images in front of the eye, such as words, charts, and photographs. Much of the hardware is semitransparent so that wearers can navigate their surroundings without crashing into them or becoming disoriented. In all likelihood, a separate, portable device will relay displayable information to the lens’s control circuit, which will operate the optoelectronics in the lens.

These lenses don’t need to be very complex to be useful. Even a lens with a single pixel could aid people with impaired hearing or be incorporated as an indicator into computer games. With more colors and resolution, the repertoire could be expanded to include displaying text, translating speech into captions in real time, or offering visual cues from a navigation system. With basic image processing and Internet access, a contact-lens display could unlock whole new worlds of visual information, unfettered by the constraints of a physical display.

Parviz has a long old article there, and for those with a more technical bent it gives an insight into the way the contacts will actually work… though he’s canny enough not to put a solid date on the technology becoming available. [via New York Times; image by pasukaru76]

I wonder if he needs any test subjects?

Upgrade for obsolete pets: animal contact lenses

dog with cataractsAs medical technology advances, the benefits can trickle down the hierarchy of species. Point in case: a German company developing custom-made contact lenses for animals who develop severe cataracts:

The acrylic intraocular lenses are implanted into animals’ eyes when their vision has clouded to the point of total impairment, and are fitted for various species, from cat-eye-sized to fist-width for rhinos.

“Cataracts generally means blindness for animals, unlike for humans,” said the head of the company’s veterinary division, Ingeborg Fromberg.

“And because animals have short life spans, it means losing quality of life in a greater share of that life.”

Since its launch in 2008, the firm has fielded calls from Sea World in San Diego (a sea lion who had trouble performing his tricks due to severely blurry vision), an Australia nature park (a blind kangaroo) and a Romanian zoo (a visually impaired lioness).

The German lenses have helped turn the lights back on for dozens of house pets, racehorses, circus animals, guide dogs — literally preventing the blind leading the blind — and even wild creatures roaming nature reserves.

I wonder if it’s an inevitable behaviour for a cyborg race to cyberneticise its “client” species? The animal uplift lobby might say that it’s a duty rather than a choice. [via grinding.be; image by Andy McLeod]