Superhuman Vision with the “Bionic” Contact Lenses


Researchers have developed new contact lenses that contain circuits, LEDs, and a “powder” of electrical components that can enable an average human being to possess superhuman vision.

The contact lenses would allow images to be displayed in a person’s vision, superimposed on the real world.

According to the researchers, from the University of Washington, some of the possible applications include the following:

  • zooming in on distant objects
  • get useful facts to pop up in your field of view
  • create virtual cross-hairs
  • holographic driving panels
  • surfing the Web
  • visual aids for vision-impaired people
  • immersive video games

The team suggests that the “Bionic Eye” lenses could have a much greater potential of uses. How about a personalized wide-screen TV?

The researchers explained that one of the most difficult parts of designing the lenses is making them biologically safe. So far, they have only tested the lenses on rabbits, with no negative effects. Electrical circuits consist of toxic chemicals, but the scientists built them from layers of metal only a few nanometers thick.

The LEDs are almost as tiny, with a diameter of one-third of a millimeter. Other electrical components are so tiny the scientists describe them as a “grayish powder” which they sprinkled onto a sheet of plastic. The components then self-assembled themselves based on their shapes and micro-scale forces.

All these components could be positioned on the lenses outside of the transparent part of the eye.

In the future, the scientists hope to enable the lenses to communicate wirelessly with other devices. They also plan to power the system using a combination of solar cells located on the contact lenses, and radio-frequency power. Although a full display is a ways off, the scientists hope to create a basic version in the near future.