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Contact Lens of the Future Is Pretty Remarkable

You'd be able to zoom in and out by blinking
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2019 8:23 AM CDT
Stock photo. It will take a while for the new technology to be refined into wearable lenses.   (Getty/ContentWorks)

(Newser) – Imagine straining your eyes to see something in the distance. Then you blink twice, and, voila, your vision zooms in for a clearer view. Blink twice again, and you zoom back out. That sci-fi scenario is closer than you think, based on new research out of the University of California, San Diego, reports the Next Web. Researchers there have developed a soft contact lens that is controlled by the wearer's eye movements, per Engadget. Look down— say to focus on words in a book—and the lenses provide a closer view. Look back up, and they shift back to a more distant view. This is all possible because, in the words of New Scientist, "the human eyeball is electric." The futuristic lens monitors the eyes' electrical signals and responds accordingly.

"Even if your eye cannot see anything, many people can still move their eyeball and generate this electro-oculographic signal," lead researcher Shengqiang Cai tells New Scientist. (The study itself is in Advanced Functional Materials.) One big hiccup is that the current prototype will need a lot of refinement—and miniaturization—before people can actually uses the lenses, notes Gizmodo. For example, test subjects had electrodes placed on the skin near their eyes in order to make the lenses work. Still, the potential is huge if a big company invests in R&D. "If a company like Johnson & Johnson ever figured this out, who would even wear glasses again?" wonders Andrew Liszewski of Gizmodo. (Showering with your contact lenses still in is not a good idea.)

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