Scientists Create Contact Lens That Can Zoom In When You Blink
That means that wearers can use blinking - and combinations of blinks - to make the lens zoom in and out on command.
They reckon that this breakthrough might one day lead to the development of eye-controlled cameras, or even prosthetic eyes.
A normal contact lens is made only from salt water and works by copying the natural electrical signals of the human eyeball. This one is just a little bit special.
Let's try to do the science first.
Basically, there is a constant amount of electrical potential between the front and back of the eye that continues even if the eye is closed or if there is no light.
When the eyes move or you blink, the motion of that electrical potential can be measured.
Whilst that won't make a single lick of sense to many of us, the researchers from the University of California in San Diego understand exactly what is going on, and developed a lens that uses those electrical signals - which, if you're still interested, are called electrooculograms - in order to control a soft contact lens.
These electrooculographic signals allow the eyeball to move about even whilst the eye is shut.
The leader of this particular study, Dr Shenggiang Cai, told New Scientist: "Even if your eye cannot see anything, many people can still move their eyeball and generate this electrooculographic signal."
To make the lens, they took special polymers that expand when an electrical current is applied. Five electrodes the surround the eye and act as if they were muscles. As the polymer expands to become more concave, the lens zooms in.
This paves the way for blink-controlled zooming in the future. That would be quite something, right?
The team measured the electrooculographic signals generated by specific movements of the eye and mapped them to a soft biometric lens that then responds to the electric impulses.
Up, down, left, right, blink, and double blink. Each of those movements makes the lens respond. In this case, they created a lens able to change focal length with each electric signal.
Dr Cai continued: "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."
Whilst this is all very interesting, we still don't know when these lenses will hit the market, or what they'll set you back to buy.
However, Dr Cai added: "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 possibilities are endless. The future is going to be a strange and terrifying place.
Well, a more strange and terrifying place than right now, at the very least.
Featured Image Credit: University Of California