New Technology Could Transform Contact Lenses Into Computer Screens

February 10, 2016 | Elizabeth Knowles

Contact lens
Photo credit: Niek Beck/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From sci-fi to reality

Are you ready for the next sci-fi idea to become a reality? Not only may smart glasses (glasses used as computers) someday become mainstream, but now there’s talk of contact lenses being used as screens as well. I’m not sure how I feel about a screen sitting right on my eye, but there are some pretty neat applications.

However, according to, scientists from the University of South Australia (UniSA)'s Future Industries Institute (FII) have successfully completed "proof of concept" research and developed a polymer film coating that can conduct electricity on a contact lens. In other words, contact lenses could potentially be safely built with miniature electrical circuits embedded in them. Their research was published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

SEE ALSO: 6 Insane Potential Features on Google’s Smart Contact Lenses

UniSA researcher from the FII, Associate Professor Drew Evans told that “the technology was a ‘game changer’ and could provide one of the safest methods to bring people and their smart devices closer together.”

Two applications that he envisions are sensors that could measure glucose levels in people’s blood and electronic displays that could act like computers with images generated directly on the lenses.

"We have always known that our film coating technologies had potential for many applications and now we have taken that a step further by proving that we can make biocompatible, conducting polymers at the nanoscale and grow them directly on a contact lens," said Evans

The FII has joined forces with a contact lens developer in the United Kingdom for the project and is excited about the game-changing possibilities for the “hi-tech contact lens industry.” "The sky's the limit and the work we're doing with our industry partner aims to give them a game changing technology," said Evans.

Their next goal is to make the technology more robust and then scale the process up to create a manufacturable commercial product. "If we can demonstrate that we can get it to stick then that is the game changer and the world is our oyster," said Evans

Not only is the new technology high-tech and sci-fi sounding, it could change lives in the healthcare industry.

"What is really significant is that the materials we are developing are not only safe but also have the potential for a range of personalised health monitoring applications that could make life simpler for people struggling with chronic health problems,” said Evans.

The future is closer than we think!

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