The development is a joint venture between the Center of Microsystems Technology
(CMST), the company Imec and the Ghent University in Belgium, according to the technology website Tech 2
The researchers have developed a spherical curved liquid crystal display (LCD) that can be embedded in contact lenses. Unlike LED-based contact lens displays, which are also in development, the LCD-based technology permits the use of the entire display surface.
By adapting the patterning process of the conductive layer of the lens, the researchers have enabled the technology to be sharper and clearer in terms of pixel number and sizes (much like the quality of a camera or a graphic).
Another innovation will be the ability to send text messages directly to the eyes, much like a message would be read on a mobile phone.
Jelle De Smet, the main researcher on the project is quoted by the Daily Telegraph
"Normally, flexible displays using liquid crystal cells are not designed to be formed into a new shape, especially not a spherical one. Thus, the main challenge was to create a very thin, spherically curved substrate with active layers that could withstand the extreme molding processes. Moreover, since we had to use very thin polymer films, their influence on the smoothness of the display had to be studied in detail. By using new kinds of conductive polymers and integrating them into a smooth spherical cell, we were able to fabricate a new LCD-based contact lens display."
According to Think Digit
, the researchers are currently developing fully autonomous electronic contact lenses. Further ‘next-generation solutions’ could be used for medical purposes, such as to control the light transmission toward the retina in case of a damaged iris, or for cosmetic purposes such as an iris with a tunable color linked to mood.