Virtual Reality Contact Lens Shows One Pixel

A virtual reality contact lens straight out of the pages of novels by Vernor Vinge and Larry Niven with Steven Barnes has been constructed. The contact lens is a proof-of-concept device that demonstrates that it is possible to use this technology on a living animal.


( A single-pixel wireless contact lens display )

We present the design, construction and in vivo rabbit testing of a wirelessly powered contact lens display. The display consists of an antenna, a 500 × 500 µm2 silicon power harvesting and radio integrated circuit, metal interconnects, insulation layers and a 750 × 750 µm2 transparent sapphire chip containing a custom-designed micro-light emitting diode with peak emission at 475 nm, all integrated onto a contact lens. The display can be powered wirelessly from ~1 m in free space and ~2 cm in vivo on a rabbit. The display was tested on live, anesthetized rabbits with no observed adverse effect. In order to extend display capabilities, design and fabrication of micro-Fresnel lenses on a contact lens are presented to move toward a multipixel display that can be worn in the form of a contact lens.

SF fans recall the DreamTime Scleral Contact Lenses from Larry Niven and Steve Barnes's 1992 novel California Voodoo Game and more recently the smart contact lens from Vernor Vinge's 2001 story Fast Times at Fairmont High and of course his more recent novel Rainbows End.

From A single-pixel wireless contact lens display via New Scientist; see the progress since the 2008 story Circuit Smart Contact Lens, Presaged By Niven, Barnes and Vinge.

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