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Boffins one step closer to Terminator vision

I want your clothes, your boots and your computerised contact lenses

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Boffins have come a step closer to creating a Terminator-style field of vision with contact lenses that give hands-free info updates.

Soon you too could assess random bikers for the probability that their clothes will fit you and locate your primary target with the computerised contact lenses, which researchers have been testing on rabbits again with no adverse affects.

But not very soon, since the working prototype currently only contains a single pixel, which the boffins see as a proof-of-concept for more complex information.

The problem with "reading" information off a contact lens is that it would be too close to the eye, nearer than the minimum focal distance, so it would appear blurry.

To sort that out, the researchers used Fresnel lenses, which are thinner and flatter than ordinary lenses, to focus the projected image onto the retina.

Some obvious uses for this kind of information delivery (if you're not a T1000) include viewing short emails or text messages, but the devices could also be used in games, navigation or even linked to biosensors in the user's body to give information on glucose or lactate levels, according to the scientists.

The lens, created by boffins from the University of Washington and Aalto University in Finland, has an antenna to pick up power from an external source and an integrated circuit to store the energy.

However, although the lenses could be powered from a metre away when they tested it in free space, once they were in the rabbit's eyes that distance was reduced to about 2cm, so there's quite a lot of work still to be done.

"We need to improve the antenna design and the associated matching network and optimise the transmission frequency to achieve an overall improvement in the range of wireless power transmission," said study co-author Prof Babak Praviz.

"Our next goal, however, is to incorporate some predetermined text in the contact lens."

The boffins published their study today in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering. ®

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