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Digital Contacts Will Keep an Eye on Your Vital Signs

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contact lens with LED

More advanced versions of the contact lens with a built-in LED could scroll virtual captions beneath every person or object in a user's field of vision.

Credit: University of Washington

University of Washington (UW) researchers are developing a contact lens with a wirelessly powered light-emitting diode (LED) in the hope that the device can be used for augmented reality (AR) functions that include monitoring the wearer's vital signs. UW professor Babak Parvis says the contact lens design dovetails well with personal health monitoring because of the wealth of bodily information that can be extrapolated from the eye.

Parvis says an AR-enabled contact lens would greatly advance personal health monitoring because the eye's surface can be used to quantify much of the data that can be read from blood tests. The device also has the potential to create a new interface for social networking, gaming, and general reality interaction.

In addition to the LED, the lens integrates miniature antennas, control circuits, and radio chips, and the researchers hope these elements will eventually feature hundreds of LEDs to digitally overlay images.

A number of issues must be resolved before the lens is ready for humans, including ensuring that it is safe for people to wear. Georgia Tech professor Blair MacIntyre says the device also will need to be enabled to track the movements of the eye to guarantee that the digital overlay is properly oriented to the wearer's field of vision. Parvis says that when the lens technology advances to support more processor-intense AR applications, it likely will have to draw power from a companion device such as a smartphone.

From Wired News
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