Heads-Up Display Contact Lenses Are One Step Closer After Passing Safety Tests

By Sam Gibbs on at

The days of traditional screens could be numbered if the news coming out of Washington University is anything to go by. It's testing contact lenses that could project information into the wearers eyes and initial safety tests look promising.

We've been dreaming of a HUD-style vision enhancer ever since Sci-Fi first introduced the concept to the masses with things like The Terminator. But now we've taken a significant step forward and are genuinely getting closer to making Terminator-vision a reality. Researchers have been testing a primitive version of a contact lens display with just one LED -- a single pixel -- but they're pursuing the technology with renewed vigour after safety studies concluded that the contact lens caused no adverse affects to the wearer when tested on rabbits.

The main problem, like so many of these ultra-thin technology ideas, is the power source. The current implementation uses a wireless battery, but it can't be more than a few centimeters away. Thankfully another possible hurdle to potential eyeball-mounted displays, the fact that your eye can't normally focus on something actually on its surface, was solved by a collaboration with boffins from Aalto University in Finland. The team managed to use the material of the lens to modify the focal length of the eye, a bit like a traditional contact lens does, allowing you to focus on the lens display itself.

With safety confirmed, let's hope the project progresses at a rate of knots. Augmented reality shows great promise, but is a bit lame on the phone. I want my Terminator-vision now. The next stage in testing is to push forward with their plan to get the lens to display some pre-determined text -- may I suggest "Hello World"? [BBC]