Smart Contact Lenses Could Bring Augmented Reality to the Next Level

Layar's augmented reality app.
I’m sure you’ve seen the videos of augmented reality in action. Or maybe you've walked down the street with a smartphone at eye-level, watching as it showed you the names and types of businesses in your field of vision along with points of interest. But if Babak Parviz of the University of Washington gets his way, having to use a smartphone (or 3D glasses, for that matter) might be a thing of the past through microelectronics and transparent materials that don’t bother your eyes.

As reported by New Scientist, Babak’s lab has already created a lens that simulates the 3D optics you’d find in visors to view 3D movies, and they have only a green miniature LED left to make to have full color images they create on an LED grid (containing red, blue and green) that would make images appear in front of you in full color.

I don’t know about you, but I’m imagining this sort of tech coupled with wearable computers that interfaced with the lenses to project all sorts of insane things right into your field of vision. Directions on a 3D map, sensor information, a twitter feed...okay, I’m only partially serious about the last, but the possibilities seem endless, and endlessly distracting.

The 2010 Nielsen Report had some interesting facts about Americans and their electronics. What if instead of 4 televisions in your house you had a wireless router that broadcast television directly into your vision? Would Verizon offer an unlimited data plan to 4G devices that sent a signal directly to a contact lens? Finally, how would our interactions change when we didn’t even need to bother looking at our phones for distraction? Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

Perhaps less snazzy than a heads-up display built into a contact lens but with a more real world application is Babak’s recent creation: a lens that can monitor glucose levels for use with diabetes patients, which would allow patients to monitor their diets and medication more accurately this way. No more pinpricks to check blood sugar. That sounds like a winning creation to me.

This is only the beginning of what could be possible with this sort of technology. Read the full story at New Scientist for more details.

[New Scientist]

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