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Belgian Researchers Build LCD Contact Lenses 98

First time accepted submitter nickvad writes "The Belgian Centre for Microsystems Technology has built a spherical LCD display in a contact lens. The technology is groundbreaking and holds a wide range of applications from medical to cosmetic applications and more. The LCD technology has the potential to be used as a productivity or a social tool, paving the way for futuristic technological innovations like Google Glass."
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Belgian Researchers Build LCD Contact Lenses

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  • Oh yeah baby! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Johann Lau ( 1040920 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:06PM (#42199507) Homepage Journal

    People talking into headsets while walking down the street just isn't creepy enough.

    • Oblig (Score:5, Funny)

      by Jimbob The Mighty ( 1282418 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:12PM (#42199557)
      "Why is it called the eyePhone?"
      • Lawnmower Man 2 had 'eyephones' before the iPhone was announced.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Lawnmower Man 2 had 'eyephones' before the iPhone was announced.

          That means Apple should patent it now and sue them

    • by Hartree ( 191324 )

      Oh, but wait till it hits the anime cons.

      Hoards of catgirl cosplayers now with animated catseye contacts.

    • Finally! We'll be able to get laid! We'll be able to display subliminal messaging in our eyes, the gateway to the soul, "Yeah baby, you want me! I'm sexy!"
      • It's LCD though, not LED. But I guess you could use it for the opposite, like fake dilated pupils when your boss hands you a memo. Or hey, why not send mixed signals by doing that only with one eye, kinda like going o_O

        You may say that's silly, but surely it makes more sense than seeing blinking dollar signs... o_O

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:10PM (#42199541)

    It is not similar at all to Google Glass. From the article:

    The display is not intended for the wearer of the lens to view – the human eye would be unable to focus on such a close-up object – and it would only be seen by others

    As for the actual purpose, well, you'll just have to RTFA... :)

    • I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to sell my LCD contact lens space for advertising.

      Every little bit helps.

    • by Guignol ( 159087 )
      You don't have to RTFA to find out
      The hilarious video makes it quite clear:
      The intent is to reproduce tex avery cartoon like effects over people's eyes showing money signs when they see something valueable or some potential client/victim
      This is huge, the next step it to force car dealers lawyers etc. to wear them, and ideally the dollars signs should be visible at the apropriate moment (when they are just about to screw you), but for a very good and cheap first approximation, it would work by letting th
    • I assume a James Bond villain will wear these...when sitting carefully there and not walking around. They are little billboards for other people to see pictures on your eyes, rather than a sci-fi holy grail to feed data into your eye.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Obvious joke is obvious.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Obvious anatomy fail is obvious. The joke would be to call this a cornea display. A retina display would be installed inside of the eye.

  • is it even possible to focus on a display that is literally on your cornea? I understand the 'light-adaptive sunglasses' application would not need a resolution, but if the intent is to deliver pixels of information, how feasible is this?
    • Re:focus (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:21PM (#42199635)

      Not focus _on_, but focus _with_ these contact lenses. Now that they have figured out how to make very thin spherical membranes (in the FA) with optical quality, these could be used for any number of other devices. I'm thinking of the holy grail of contact lenses--active focus (by adding or subtracting small amounts of fluid between two layers to change the lens.

      • Should be easier than that. Set up multiple concentric focus zones -- we've got contacts like that already for "bifocal" use -- and dynamically black out all zones but the one you want to use. It wouldn't work especially well in bright light, though, where your pupil is contracted, because you'd only be "seeing through" the central zone anyhow.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      I can. I can see the dust as it drifts across the surface of my eye. I never asked anyone else, but I assume others can, as I saw a joke on Family Guy about it once.
      • Re:focus (Score:5, Informative)

        by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:30PM (#42199721)

        That's most likely "floaters", and not dust on the cornea. []

        Essentially, they are sluffed off epithelial cells floating around in the humor inside your eyeballs.

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          The appearance of them is consistent with a string floating on water, with the visual effects around the floater. Not like a string submerged in water. They move delayed from eye movement, which if centered in the humor, they wouldn't be delayed unless they are not evenly distributed. If they are at the focal point in the eye, they should lead the eye movement, not follow, as images are reversed at the focal point as well, right?
          • by Anonymous Coward

            They are floating at different depths near the retina, which is why some seem higher contrast than others as the ones closer to the retina cast a sharper shadow while those further away are blurred.

            Think in terms of a viscous layer near the retina that gets accelerated in the direction you move your eye, then continues with a bit of momentum after the eye slows down or changes direction again. Try looking at a white ceiling while flat on your back, and try to play with one obvious floater for a while. If

            • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
              The other thing I didn't realize until this is that it's common, but mainly as people age. I've had floaters as far back as I remember. I distinctly remember playing with floaters when I was under 10 years old. So I have a more uncommon kind that occurs in younger people. So I am still both uncommon and still not a freak. Good to know. Now hush, I'm playing with floaters. If you move your eye up slowly, then down rapidly, then up slowly, you can make the floaters climb higher in your field of vision
    • Re:focus (Score:5, Informative)

      by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:28PM (#42199697)

      is it even possible to focus on a display that is literally on your cornea

      Nope. Despite what the summary says, this isn't intended to provide a view to the wearer at all. It's purely cosmetic - people looking at you could see dollar signs in your eyes, and you might be able to use your contacts as sunglasses.

    • by CityZen ( 464761 )

      It is possible to have a display on your cornea that can show images you can focus on. However, it would work differently than other displays.

      Once light is at your cornea, a pixel corresponds to a direction instead of a location. That is, for far away objects, all the rays coming from one point (location) enter your cornea as rays traveling in the same direction; it doesn't matter where they enter. For objects that are closer than "very far away", they produce a bundle of rays that are slightly diverging

      • Thus for a display on your cornea to work, it has to be able to send out distinct light ray bundles in different directions, with each direction corresponding to a different logical pixel that you'd perceive spatially.

        Figure out how to actually do that, and the world will beat a path to your door.

        sounds like an application for 3d holography

      • I think the bigger issue would be to coax the eye into not trying to focus (the lens does actively change shape to accomodate – albeit not by a huge amount). Displaying light from the surface of a lens in such a way that an image can be resolved on the other side isn't trivial, certainly, but it shouldn't be a huge issue if you can trust the lens to stay the same shape...
  • ...oh-kay. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:17PM (#42199611)

    about the best this could be useful as, is as a flash protection optical device. Couple a thin film photocell to the LCD layer, so that a bright light automatically powers the LCD and dims the light that reaches the eye. That way it wouldn't need all that data bus hanging off of it.

    For an image display? Useless. The focal distance is way too close for the human eye. The resolution sucks balls. Displaying an image would require a data bus, and I don't want that crap irritating my eyeballs by hanging out plastic ribbon cables.

    For welding goggles? Kick ass!
    Protecting soldiers from flash burned retinas? Kick ass!
    Displaying swirlies on your eyeballs as a conversation piece? Dude, you have ribbon cables hanging out of your eyes.

    Augmented reality? What the fuck are you smoking? I want some.

    • by Onuma ( 947856 )

      For welding goggles? Kick ass!

      This is what I was thinking. You'd still need a ventilator to filter away the toxic gases and particulates, but auto-dimming contact lenses would be pretty bitchin'!

    •'s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy#Joo_Janta_200_Super-Chromatic_Peril_Sensitive_Sunglasses []

      Though most people have SEP field generators built into their brains anyway, so that'd be kinda redundant.

    • by TheLink ( 130905 )
      It'll be nice if they can protect against class 3B lasers. There seem to be too many around nowadays in the hands of untrained people.
    • Displaying an image would require a data bus, and I don't want that crap irritating my eyeballs by hanging out plastic ribbon cables.

      I take the idea of wireless data transfer is a new concept for you. Allow me to introduce you to, uhh, the past 150 years of technological progress, the latest of which are RFID chips smaller than a grain of sand and capable of complex two-way negotiation at fairly high speed for their simplicity. You will not need plastic ribbon cables. As well, there are some kinds of plastics that are electrically conductive; the etch could be painted directly onto the lens and would be so thin you'd be unable to see it

      • And also suffer from interference effects from being a very low power or passive antenna by necessity of design.

        Eg, somebody turns on the microwave, and suddenly your vision goes dark as the LCD's data antenna gets swamped with noise.

        Also, lots of people wearing said LCD contacts in an enclosed space would have competing signals in the same shared band.

        Wireless data transfer always runs into this problem. Display tech needs LOTS of band to display fluid moving images.

        You might say that the LCD lenses could

      • by kryliss ( 72493 )

        Smaller than a grain of sand still feels like you have a friggen boulder in your eye.

    • by dissy ( 172727 )

      Augmented reality? What the fuck are you smoking? I want some.

      I don't. I suspect it's dish soap.

    • by xelah ( 176252 )
      Isn't it possible to transmit data over skin? Maybe a bit slow, though.
    • by CityZen ( 464761 )

      I can think of many uses, assuming it's paired with a system for figuring out what you're looking at:
      - nanny device (think of the children)
      - automatic censorship device (nothing to see here; move along)
      - DRM (the MPAA says you really can't watch this)
      - court-ordered anti-stalker protection
      - witness protection program ...

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      For welding goggles? Kick ass!

      No way. I took a welding class in college, and one day the instructor came in wearing a red and white stripped t shirt, and underneath were red and white stripes on his skin -- the rays from the arc welder had "sunburned" through the white stripes on his shirt.

      Your eyes can get sunburned. Even worse, if a hot spark hits your eyeball, you're blind in that eye forever. Goggles and hoods are for more than just protecting your eyes from rays.

  • While it's great to see this sort of technology, I cannot help but wonder if we will actually ever have LCD contact lens in actual use. The issue I have is that anything displayed on the lens will never be visible to the person wearing the lens as their eyes cannot physically focus on the image. Imagine trying to view a screen that is literally sitting on your eyeball -- how would you possibly focus your eyes to view something that close?!
    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      Ah yes, one of the hundreds of "I don't understand this, so it *must* be impossible." responses for every new tech. Since you can't think of a solution in 5 minutes, we know it must be impossible. Thanks. That makes it easy.
      • Instead of displaying an image the traditional way, it could simply be used as a prismatic refractor to alter incoming light to produce the 'perception' of having a distant image.

        Eg, your eye's muscles focus "far away", because that is where the image would resolve from the controlled refraction done inside the lens.

        This would be comfortable, but images would never appear opaque. (Relies on bright ambient light, and defraction of incoming light. Shadowy, shimmery outlines with candy pastel colors would be a

    • Of course you couldn't put the image on the lenses, you'd have to device a system where it projects a virtual image into the eye which appears to be a few feet away or so. Should be possible. Tricky, since it isn't like any current display technology and would require extremely advanced miniaturization, but possible.

      • The idea here is to produce a "blurred" image by diffracting incoming light before it enters the cornea, that the eye then focuses with its internal lens. This is accomplished using the prismatic effects of "old school" LCD elements.

        (Rememberr in the 90s whe color LCDs came out, with TFT displays? Remember how if you looked at them from an angle, all the colors were fucked up? That is because the color image was being created through prismatic diffraction.)

        Combining several layers of these "prism" LCDs, alo

  • by CockMonster ( 886033 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:32PM (#42199743)
    I tried out Rigid Gas Permeable lenses a few days ago and could only tolerate them for about 20 minutes. I've been wearing soft lenses for over 15 years. I can't see anyone tolerating that level of discomfort without a really really good reason.
    • by Onuma ( 947856 )
      I know a couple of guys who wear those regularly. They both have degenerative eye diseases (the disorder name escapes me currently), but even these guys can't bear to have them in for more than ~12 hours or so, and that is with regular doses of eye drops/lubricant, etc.
      • guy with degenerative eye disease here! mine is keratoconus, and I've had the unfortunate opportunity to have used soft lenses at first. they're amazing in comfort compared to rgp lenses, but I find that the rgp lenses don't pose that much of a difficulty. sure they're a bit of a nuisance, but once I remember to use my drops I can wear them all day no problem.

        i see that these lcd lenses can't be used for personal screens, so i would definitely say in that case they're not worth the effort if they're simi
        • by Onuma ( 947856 )
          That is, indeed, the disease to which I was referring. Thanks for chiming in :) I hate when names and words escape me.
    • I can't see anyone tolerating that level of discomfort without a really really good reason.

      Says "CockMonster"

    • by gawbl ( 941021 )

      RGP lenses don't hurt, after your eyes have become accustomed to them. Admittedly, the acclimatization is ... unpleasant. However, it can be done, and I've worn hard lenses for about thirty years. I've never tried soft lenses.

      Perhaps you should try some rigid scleral lenses; they ride only on the sclera (white part) of your eye, and don't touch your eyeball lens at all. (Google for: scleral contact lens)

      • Perhaps you should try some rigid scleral lenses; they ride only on the sclera (white part) of your eye, and don't touch your eyeball lens at all.

        Ehh. Nightmare on elmstreet with a bulbing keratoconus... Main use of sclerals is prosthetic to keep the eyeball lens at bay.
        An experienced hospital optometrist (specialized in lenses, not glasses) will try not to rest any non-soft (ie RPG,hard) material on your eyeball lens to ease wearing (movement/blinking) and minimize scratching eyeball lens surface.

    • I've been wearing rigid lenses for about 24 years now, as I have a cylindrical vision defect that could not be corrected with soft lenses. I did not have lense conditioner solutions available back then, so I had to apply the lenses dry and therefore experienced slight discomfort at the beginning and they took a bit (about a week) of getting used to. There would have been no discomfort with the correct solutions. I have found rigid lenses cheaper, way more practical, useful, comfortable and easier to use and
  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:46PM (#42199841) Journal

    ...peril sensitive?

    • Sensing a laser or nuclear flash and reacting quickly enough might be difficult.

      They might be useful as adaptive sunglasses depending on transparency ability or maybe a checkerboard.

      Also they could function as glasses of a sort by providing a pinhole opening, which limits light and focuses, however dimly, the image for people with glasses.

      • As for general-purpose peril blinding ala Hitchhiker's, I suppose they could be adapted when merged with other tech to blind you whenever it detects something scary such as a female nearing you.

  • Good luck donig one of those in your eyes.
    • Worse, remote attack induced epileptic seizure, caused by cycling the LCD at 25hz.

      You think the annoy-a-tron, and the universal off button remote were power trips for angry nerds? Try having a bluetooth dongle that makes people have siezures.

  • by Rashkae ( 59673 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @12:27AM (#42200571) Homepage
    • 10 years ago, I would have though this technical was badass! Now, I just find it disturbing in a societal way. I don't know. Maybe I find our elective reliance on technology to be intrusive to what it means to be "human". Cell phones, social media, personal vision stuff like this, it all feels detached from reality.

      Yes. I'm starting to question my geekness. I'm not sure I like where the future is headed.

      • To be more than human is merely to be human. And I think they probably said the same thing about vaccines and spectacles.
      • Any technology that aides can also hinder. The "wingman" aspect was not invasive and is quite useful. But direct control over another, whether by date drug or synapse manipulation is, and should always remain, criminal.
      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        Maybe I find our elective reliance on technology to be intrusive to what it means to be "human".

        I'm not 100% human; I have an implant in my left eye that replaces its lens and gives me better than 20/20 vision at all distances. Being human is overrated, if you ask me. I wouldn't trade my implant for 20/400 vision for Bill Gates' money. Would you trade your car for a horse and buggy? Trade your phone for snail mail? These things make our lives better, they don't detract from our humanity.

        I notice your user n

    • Thanks for the video. Excellent clip.

Loose bits sink chips.