Scientists developing controllable contact lens that zooms in
They're made from stretchy, electroactive polymer films.
- The contact lens is made mainly from stretchy, electroactive polymer films.
- It's able to recognize subtle electrooculographic signals that we generate in the tissues near the eye.
- Samsung also recently filed a patent to develop what appear to be smart contact lenses.
A new type of soft contact lens could someday allow wearers to zoom in on distant objects just by blinking, or moving their eyes.
In a paper published in Advanced Functional Materials, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, describe how they developed a biomimetic soft lens that's able to expand instantly, changing the focal length and motion of the lens. The lens — it is made of stretchy, electro-active polymer films — uses electrodes to interpret the electro-oculographic signals that we generate in the tissues around the eye.
The goal is to make the lens sensitive enough to discern subtle changes in these signals, and to match the signals with actions: blink twice to zoom in, look down to focus on near objects, etc.
"Even if your eye cannot see anything, many people can still move their eyeball and generate this electro-oculographic signal," lead researcher Shengqiang Cai told New Scientist.
The researchers wrote:
"Because of the use of soft materials, the relative change of focal length of the lens could be as large as 32 percent through deformation. Due to the fast response of [dielectric elastomer films], the movements of the eyes and the soft lens could be easily synchronized."
Cai et al.
For now it's just a prototype — one that's too big to fit in the human eye, and which requires people wear conspicuous electrodes on their face. But the researchers suggested the system could someday be used "in visual prostheses, adjustable glasses, and remotely operated robotics in the future."
Samsung also appears interested in developing smart contacts. The South Korean company was recently granted a patent for lens technology that could include augmented reality, projecting light directly onto the user's retina, motion sensing and a camera. The patent also includes a tiny antenna, suggesting it might be able to pair with an external device like a smartphone.
But even if developers can surpass the technological hurdles, it'll take years before any smart contact lens proves safe enough to make it market.
Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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- The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
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- For a lot of us, one of the ways to give meaning to terrible moments is to see what you can learn from them.
- Sometimes certain information can "flood" us in ways that aren't helpful, and it's important to figure out what types of data you are able to take in — process — at certain times.