Scientists have invented a contact lens that can be controlled with eye movements. The robotic contact lens can zoom in and out, prompted by a combination of blinks.

This could be the breakthrough which leads to eye-controlled cameras and prosthetic eyes being developed.

In summary, the electrical potential between the front and back of the eye continues on, regardless of lighting or if the eye is open or closed.

When blinking, the motion of electrical potential can be measured, not making much sense to us, but assisting scientists a great deal when it comes to developing lenses which essentially harness this power.

Researchers from the University of California call them electrooculograms – signals which allow eye movement even when eyes are shut.

Dr Shenggiang Cai, the leader of the study told New Scientist:

 “Even if your eye cannot see anything, many people can still move their eyeball and generate this electrooculographic signal.”

They utilized specialized polymers which expand with the application of an electrical current. 5 electrodes surround the eye, resembling muscles and as the polymers expand and concave, the lens zooms in.

This is paving the way for blink-controlled zooming in the near future – quite a feat right?

Medicine and vision – young woman with contact lens

The scientific team has measured the electrooculographic signals which are generated by very specific eye movements, mapping them to a soft biometric lens which in turn responds to the electric impulses created.

Each movement creates a response in the lens – from left to right, up ad down and certain blinking patterns like a double blink, creating focal adjustments based on the signal provided.

Dr Cai continued:

“The system developed in the current study has the potential to be used in visual prostheses, adjustable glasses, and remotely operated robotics in the future.”

Not much is known yet about whether they will hit the market or how deep you will have to dig in your pockets, but the idea is ingenious and we’re rather excited about what the future holds.

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