Take a normal contact lens, and combine it with some advanced digital projection technology, and some communication capabilities and sensors, and you have smart contact lenses – a concept that feels like it is years away in the future, but is actually right here on the horizon. Smart contact lenses will be able to effectively project images and information into our visual field, in such a way that although the images are created right on the surface of our eyes, because of the way we focus on them, and the way our brains make sense of these images, they appear to be further away in our visual field.
They therefore have the potential to imbue the very world in front of our eyes with rich, visual meta data – the only limit being our creativity, and the data that is available. There are plenty of viable applications for this technology, and I’m sure the military will push a lot of this forward as they do in plenty other areas of technological innovation. Aside from the obvious recreational and social media related uses for these contact lenses (seeing friends’ latest tweets and Facebook status updates scrolling across their chests), there are some fascinating medical ones too.
Various key indicators of health can be determined from the liquid on the surface of the eye, as well as from the blood vessels in the eye. A specific example is blood sugar levels, so for diabetics, smart contact lenses could provide an immediate and unavoidable emergency indicator when blood sugar levels deviate too much from the normal range – perhaps even giving immediate and visual directions to the closest pharmacy, or corner shop to buy a Snickers! This is a true example of the dropping of interface in preference of a closer merging between our normal abilities and technology.