You’ve probably heard of the Google Glass (and its demise), but there are more vision-based wearables in development, including smart contact lenses. Smart contact lenses are not yet available on the market, partly because they face additional technical challenges. Most people might overlook the inconvenience of wearing spectacles, but we probably won’t see eye-to-eye on the matter of placing an electronic device directly on our eyeballs.
Recently, a group of South Korean researchers demonstrated that their latest smart contact lens design is indeed feasible, going as far as to demonstrate for the first time that their prototype can be worn safely by humans.
It seems so — it is made from hybrid nanomaterials encased in a soft, stretchable polymer. The lens can be elongated up to 1/3 more than its original dimensions, repeatedly too.
Is the lens safe? Check — it operates at low voltages and maintains a stable temperature far below body temperatures.
Is it convenient to use? Why, yes — it can be wirelessly charged to full power in four minutes. The researchers claim that their smart contact lens are the first that can be operated continuously, thanks to a built-in supercapacitor. The supercapacitor stores a large amount of charge per unit volume and releases it, allowing for continuous function.
How is this contact lens “smart”? Well, it blinks. So far, its only function is for an embedded LED to turn on and off.
Nevertheless, this research has cleared the major technical hurdles. Now, it behooves the rest of society to ask why we should want smart contact lenses.
Previous attempts by major companies have had outlooks far from eye-catching. was conceived in 2014 for monitoring glucose levels in tears, but the project has been because of . Samsung has filed several contact lenses for augmented reality, but a concrete product remains nowhere near market-ready. If we blindly chase after the bandwagon, then smart contact lenses might .