University of Washington researcher Babak Parviz has embedded nanoscale-sized circuitry into a contact lens in an effort to create a new kind of heads-up-display (HUD). The lens harvests radio waves to power a light-emitting diode (LED), which would be used to project floating images in front of a user’s eyes. Parviz says that one of the limitations of current HUDs is their limited field of view, but a contact lens could provide a much wider field of view. The circuitry for the contact lens requires 330 microwatts, but does not need a battery. Instead, a loop antenna receives power from a nearby radio source. Parviz says future version of the contact lens could harvest power from a user’s cell phone, potentially as the phone sends information to the lens. Advanced lenses also will have more pixels and an array of microlenses to focus the image so it appears suspended in front of a user’s eyes. He says the lens could be used to view subtitles when someone is speaking a foreign language, directions for an unfamiliar area, captioned photographs, or information for pilots. “A contact lens that allows virtual graphics to be seamlessly overlaid on the real world could provide a compelling augmented reality experience,” says Human Interface Technology Laboratory director Mark Billinghurst.
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