Carrying around an actual, functional display within a contact lens is something which had been a part of movies and fiction until recently. Thanks to the work of researchers at The Center of Microsystems Technology, we may be on the on the very verge of realizing this fantasy.
These researchers have been able to create an extra-ordinary LCD display which has a spherical and curved structure. The display is really tiny, so much so that it can easily be embedded into the contact lenses.
This has opened up virtually infinite possibilities for medical as well as non-medical uses of this display. It can be used to create such lenses which can include different amount of pixels. For instance, the display could be a one-pixel cover to turn the lenses into sunglasses. Or, like the prototype that the researchers showed off, the display can be used to contain any given design.
Whereas researchers have been able to make some very basic uses of this tiny display, they hope that in the coming days, they may be able to put it to a lot more uses. For instance, the LCD display can be used to serve as a shield or a filter to control the amount of light entering an eye. Or it can be used to tweak the angle at which light enters the eye, thus aiding those with eyesight problems.
According to Jelle De Smet, who is the lead researcher on this project, “Normally, flexible displays using liquid crystal cells are not designed to be formed into a new shape, especially not a spherical one. Thus, the main challenge was to create a very thin, spherically curved substrate with active layers that could withstand the extreme molding processes. By using new kinds of conductive polymers and integrating them into a smooth spherical cell, we were able to fabricate a new LCD-based contact lens display.”