John

Bionic Eyesight: Coming Soon in a Future Near You

In Geek Stuff on January 21, 2008 at 12:42 pm

bionicwoman1.jpg

I haven’t seen the latest re-incarnation of the Bionic Woman yet, but hell, from the way things are going in our science labs, the Bionic Woman may be soon be considered out of date, thanks to the good engineering folks at the University of Washington. Word is that they’ve developed a rabbit-tested contact lens that has embedded electronic circuits and lights, enabling us to browse the web in the future through our contact lenses.

This, however, fails desperately in comparison to good-ol’ beer goggles. Here’s an excerpt:

Movie characters from the Terminator to the Bionic Woman use bionic eyes to zoom in on far-off scenes, have useful facts pop into their field of view, or create virtual crosshairs. Off the screen, virtual displays have been proposed for more practical purposes – visual aids to help vision-impaired people, holographic driving control panels and even as a way to surf the Web on the go.

The device to make this happen may be familiar. Engineers at the University of Washington have for the first time used manufacturing techniques at microscopic scales to combine a flexible, biologically safe contact lens with an imprinted electronic circuit and lights.

“Looking through a completed lens, you would see what the display is generating superimposed on the world outside,” said Babak Parviz, a UW assistant professor of electrical engineering. “This is a very small step toward that goal, but I think it’s extremely promising.”

The results were presented today at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ international conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems by Harvey Ho, a former graduate student of Parviz’s now working at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, Calif. Other co-authors are Ehsan Saeedi and Samuel Kim in the UW’s electrical engineering department and Tueng Shen in the UW Medical Center’s ophthalmology department.

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