Bionic contact lenses are a future technology concept being developed by scientists and engineers. In theory, these devices would have tiny screen displays implanted within the material of the lens that could be used in a variety of ways, including everything from displaying text that describes objects in the user’s surroundings to enhancing vision. Advances in the miniaturization of electronics components have made this technology more possible than it was in the past, but experts suggest that there are still a few obstacles that must be overcome before it is possible to create practical bionic contact lenses for consumers.
Scientists have many different ideas about ways to use bionic contact lenses that could potentially benefit people in everyday life. For example, the lenses could offer tips and information about the things an individual is looking at, provide a compass or map overlay to help people navigate, magnify objects within the person’s vision, or provide an infrared mode, allowing people to see the world in a brand new way. Other ideas include practical things such as monitoring heart-rate and body temperature for exercisers, or flashing warnings about upcoming traffic problems. Some of these ideas may be beyond the limitations of currently proposed designs, but as the technology matures, scientists feel they may be possible.
There are a few particular technological advances that have made bionic contact lenses more practical than they once were. According to experts, some of the main areas of advancement have been the improvements in light-emitting diode (LED) technology. Modern LEDs can be very small and take very little power to operate, making it potentially possible to create a tiny LED screen on a contact lens that uses very little power. Additionally, improvements in wireless technology make it potentially possible to have the computer that sends the images to the lenses in a separate device, perhaps a small machine worn on the person’s belt or even as part of the individual’s cell phone.
Scientists are working to overcome a few roadblocks in order to make the technology usable and practical to actually build. According to experts, further miniaturization is still needed along with some additional advances in power efficiency, but the basic components are already available and they just need a little more refinement. Some scientists believe that the first working devices will probably have fairly modest capabilities and it may take a significant amount of time before some of the more advanced possibilities become available for real use.