Can This Bionic Lens Give You Smart Vision?

Can This Bionic Lens Give You Smart Vision?

November 3, 2019 100 By Kailee Schamberger


Imagine having the entire internet available
at the blink of an eye. With a computer monitor on your contact lens. It’s already more science than fiction. You may be walking through a street and you
see a restaurant and you’d like to have more information about this restaurant. That can be displayed in front of your eyes. You can imagine a number of different things. A personal GPS type thing that would show
you directions to your destination. That information can be superimposed through
what you would normally see. At the University of Washington, a research
team has set its sights on creating a real bionic eye. The challenge: build a screen as small as
your iris and figure out how to wirelessly connect it to a computer you put in your pocket. It’s a very complicated device to make because
we have to incorporate high performance circuitry on a contact lens. We have to put small radios on a contact lens
to be able to communicate with this device, send data to the lens perhaps get some data
back. They start by boiling up some lead-free solder
to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Into that they dip a small polymer wafer that
has a tiny circuit board etched onto one side of it. So once the small components are assembled
we coat everything in a biocompatible polymer and mould the structure into the right shape
to make a contact lens. To test it the team tries sending a radio
signal to a prototype lens that holds a single pixel. So, what we’re trying to do is demonstrate
a one-pixel display that’s wirelessly powered. So, we have an RF transmitter that’s transmitting
power and data over to a small silicon chip on a contact lens. And we have contact. The lens picks up the signal and lights up
the pixel. That is wonderful. You’d see that all the hard work has finally
paid off. So, we’re all ecstatic. So, what if we take it to the next step? What if there are lots of pixels to spell
out words and make pictures? Yo Nicole how you doing? Good. How are you? How’s Brooklyn treating you? Nice. Great to see you too. Your dog okay? He’s fine. I saw some really cool pictures. Keep it up. Keep it up. Alana hey. I haven’t seen you since last Oct by Austin. I know. It’s been too long. How’s the video blogging stuff going? Really fun. I’m having fun with it in New York. Good. Yeah. Rock it out. I’m going to check out that latest episode. That’s really nice. Desi. Hey. What’s up? Man, I heard you’re finally getting out
of Jersey, going to D.C. Definitely man. Treasury Department, right? Yeah, yeah, your home town dude. See I don’t trust you with my money, but
congratulations anyway, you know what I mean? Congratulations. Good to see you. But hold up a minute. Before we get too carried away with this terminator
vision, when we last left Babak and his team they had only managed to put one measly pixel
on a lens. That’s like staring at a flashlight compared
to a TV screen. This idea’s going to need some work. The first pixel was definitely the most difficult. So, going from one to ten is going to be a
lot easier than going from zero to one. And I think it will get definitely easier
and easier probably up to a point and then again get more difficult as we get to extremely
small dimensions. It would take about a million pixels to create
the images we want. And you can’t do that by hand. So, Babak’s gang dreamed up a short cut. It’s a technique called self-assembly. They make a liquid containing thousands of
free floating pixels. Then they sandwich a circuit board between
two pieces of glass. When they pour the liquid into the sandwich
the pixels stick to the metal on the circuit board. With a breakthrough or two a real bionic lens
could be on the market. Then you’ll never be blown off by someone
you’re sure you know. You’ll get instant info or quick reminders
on everyone you meet. You’ll never have to wonder who they are
or what they’re like. How are you?