Scientists unveil a brand new smart contact lens that tracks health and detects disease

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

Smart contact lenses are seen as the next must have gadgets, and now more and more of them are starting to appear.

 

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All of a sudden the number of smart contact lenses that are emerging is on a tear, with new lenses that can zoom in on objects to turn you into a super spy, and new augmented reality contact lenses that do away with the need for those dorky AR glasses, and now scientists have created a smart contact lens that could help track the wearer’s health and monitor diseases such as diabetes and glaucoma.

Researchers at the Seoul University in South Korea created the soft contact lens to monitor fluid in the eyes for biomarkers that indicate the presence or severity of a particular disease.

 

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The lenses can also be charged wirelessly thanks to a technique called ‘Direct Ink Writing’ that let the team build tiny supercapacitors directly in the lens that can store electrical energy. The lens can then be charged using a conventional antenna system or wireless charging system meaning it can operate without needing to be charged externally using something like a conventional battery which, frankly, would kill the concept.

 

The researchers, lead by Jihun Park, said that the lens “performed reliably” in a live test with both rabbits and a human “test pilot” who wore the lens for 10 minutes. Park also said that there were no noticeable adverse effects and that the lens did not obstruct the wearer’s vision as the team tested all of its functions.

The research could be yet another breakthrough in smart contact lens technology, which has been studied extensively for medical applications and augmented reality, and recently elsewhere South Korean technology giant Samsung recently patented a contact lens that could take pictures and video simply by blinking.

 

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But according to the new research, smart contact lenses have thus far been limited by “the large size, rigidity, and heat produced by conventional batteries,” which made them uncomfortable to wear and which had the adverse side effect of cooking the test subject’s eyeballs – something that is a major no no. But, as new manufacturing techniques and technologies emerge it’s only a matter of when not if smart contact lenses will become a commercial reality.

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