Almost exactly a year ago I was writing about the development of Google Glass here at DaniWeb. In the meantime, the project has turned into a reality and actual product has got into the hands of reviewers and some lucky users with $1,500 to spare. This would all be much more exciting for me were it not for the fact that my vision is severely impaired thanks to suffering from Wet Macular Degeneration in one eye (hence the patch) and the other being very lazy indeed. I get by with the use of a contact lens and high magnification reading glasses, along with other tools and tech to help me at work. I was interested to read, therefore, about the possibility of a prescription version of the Google Glass technology as reported by Engadget earlier this year. Now news is breaking of researchers who are intent on producing the same type of Google Glass tech but in a contact lens.
According to a report in the MIT Technology Review researchers, including those at Samsung research, have successfully embedded a light-emitting diode using nanometric tech into a soft contact lens. Led by Jang-Ung Park from the Flexible Nano-electronics and Biotechnology lab at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea, the group has developed what MIT report as being "a transparent, highly conductive, and stretchy mix of graphene and silver nanowires". Graphene you may recall, is a one-atom thick layer of graphite wonder substance developed by a couple of clever chaps at the University of Manchester in England who won the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2010 as a result. I always knew that some incredible new technologies would emerge from the development of graphene, but never imagined that a heads-up display direct to your cornea on a contact lens would be amongst them.
Other contact-lens display systems already exist, but this is the first to move away from rigid or non-transparent materials and therefore have the potential to be wearable day-to-day instead of just used for medical investigations and monitoring. Interestingly, MIT reports that Google Glass project co-founder Babak Parviz was one of the people who has previously constructed such rigid contact lens displays. Jang-Ung Park says that he wants to "make a wearable contact-lens display that can do all the things Google Glass can do" and by working with the Samsung researchers has managed to coat a soft contact lens with a 'stretchy conductor' over which a LED is placed. It's early days yet, and one-pixel (for that is what this has) does not a heads up display make. However, it is a start and it could well be that in another twelve months time I will be revisiting this story with news about the Google Glass Contact Lens being made available to developers.