Scientists create robotic contact lenses that zoom when you blink twice

It’s like something out of a spy film except it’s absolutely real. Scientists from San Diego, California have developed robotic contact lenses that zoom in and out as it is controlled by eye movements.

While robotic contact lenses aren’t new, most of these are manually or pre-programmed. Now, scientists have found a way for the lenses to çopy natural electric signals from the human eyeball that remain active even when eyes are closed.

This natural charge is what researchers Researchers from the University of California San Diego used to control the lenses. The lenses were made to respond to “electro-oculographic signal”, or the electrical potential of the eye.

The lead researcher for the newly created device, Shengqiang Cai, spoke to science publication New Scientist saying: “Even if your eye cannot see anything, many people can still move their eyeball and generate this electro-oculographic signal.”

These robotic lenses are made from polymers that expand as a reaction to electric current. To control the lenses, five electrodes surrounding the eye act like muscles. When the polymer becomes more convex, this signals the lenses to zoom in.

Scientists hope that this new technology will pave the way to the creation of a prosthetic eye or camera that can be controlled by eye movements alone.

“The system developed in the current study has the potential to be used in visual prostheses, adjustable glasses, and remotely operated robotics in the future,” the scientists wrote in Advanced Functional Materials.

Imagine a future where hand-held cameras are a thing of the past as you capture memories using just your eyes. It looks like we’re closer to that than we believe.

Christian Woods
Christian Woods
Christian is a morning reporter and technology columnist for Best in Australia. Christian has worked in the media since 2000, in a range of locations. He joined Best in Australia in 2018, and began working in Melbourne in 2019.
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