This week, another piece of futuristic tech that we’ve seen in a million sci-fi movies became a reality. Researchers from the University of California San Diego have created a contact lens that can zoom in and out on command, giving you eagle-like vision.
Believe it or not, lenses with this function have actually been around for a while – the real breakthrough with these particular lenses concerns how the user operates them. Rather than controlling the zoom function via a remote control or pre-programed movements, this lens is simply activated with a double blink.
How on Earth does that work? Simple: by reading the minute electrical signals created when you move your eyeball. These are called electro-oculographic signals, and our eyes emit them even when closed, or sleeping. That part is especially significant, because it means that this technology can be operated by people with impaired vision – and could eventually be used to develop prosthetic eyes or cameras that are intuitively controlled by the movements of the eyeball.
The lens is made from a stretchy polymer material which is operated by 5 electrodes. These essentially act as tiny muscles, which can pull the lens taut or loosen it, making it more convex/concave in shape and creating the zoom effect.
It’s very early days for this technology, but it’s certainly an exciting breakthrough in the campaign to bring sight to those who have lost theirs (and bionic vision to Six Million Dollar Man fans…).