Do you ever wish your eyes had a zoom-in function, similar to the one on a camera, just so you could get a better look at something when you needed to? Soon, contact lens wearers may be able to do just that. A new robotic lens created by scientists at the University of California, San Diego, can be controlled by eye movements.
When a wearer blinks twice, the lens zooms in. To zoom back out, just blink twice again. For now, the lenses are still in the prototype stage, and still require some significant refinements. Still, this news is promising for those with different types of vision problems for whom it is difficult to wear contact lenses.
The scientists are hopeful that the technology could one day be utilized for visual prostheses and adjustable glasses as well as remotely operated robotics. Their research on this technology was published in the scientific journal Advanced Functional Materials.
Similar technology has already been used to aid people with disabilities. They’re known as human-machine interfaces (HMI).
“HMIs have been developed to use electrophysiological signals to control the motion of wheelchairs and diverse functions of exoskeletons,” the researchers wrote. “Those HMIs have not only enabled the disabled to restore their mobility and dexterity but also enhanced the capability of healthy people.”
The prototype lenses have the ability to increase focal length (an indicator of one’s distance from an object) by as much as 32%. Strangely, the function can work even when the eye is closed, such as during sleep.
“Even if your eye cannot see anything, many people can still move their eyeball and generate this electro-oculographic signal,” Shengqiang Cai, lead author of the study, told New Scientist. “It could also be used as an external lens so that a human could control a camera with their eyes.”
Wow! Here’s hoping that this futuristic-sounding technology is one day available to everyday people!