Smart contact lenses

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

In the past decade, we’ve seen the introduction of several “smart” tech products. For instance, it’s almost impossible not to see someone with a smartphone in their hands. With the introduction of high-tech glasses like Google Glass, wearable technology is becoming increasingly popular. So, how about smart contact lenses?

Past companies have managed to make smart contact lenses before, mind you. The Switzerland-based company Sensimed, for instance, makes a lens to monitor eye pressure in patients with eye problems. Other researchers have made contact lenses with tiny display screens. Though these lenses are indeed advanced, their biggest problem is that they can be kind of irritating on the eye, or make it difficult to see.

A research team at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign wanted to make smart contact lenses with a unique goal: to design it as much for usefulness as for comfort and clarity. Jang-Ung Park, the leader of the team said,  “Our goal is to make a wearable contact-lens display that can do all the things Google Glass can do.”  They’ve made some remarkably steady progress too.

First, they started off with a simple contact lens, found in any convenience store. From there, they added awesome nanotechnology – small sized technology- they created themselves. This technology consists of graphene – a spongy material that is the strongest in the world – woven together with silver wires for electric currents.

This mixture of graphene and silver meant that the contact lens would stay really flexible while still being able to transmit energy to its diode – its display.  When they put the contacts on rabbits, their eyes were not irritated at all after five hours. This woven combination was also very transparent, allowing for 94 percent of light to pass through. If you’ve ever seen an overhead projector, imagine writing on the projector with a light marker.

The researchers are hoping this technology will help in the medical field by monitoring health through the tears found in our eyeballs.

Featured image courtesy of Sensimed.