Multiple research organizations, including two Samsung departments, have developed a new nano-material which could be used to create smart contact-lenses. The goal of the project is to make a wearable contact-lens display that can do all the things Google Glass can do.
A group led by Jang-Ung Park, a chemical engineer at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, mounted a light-emitting diode on an off-the-shelf soft contact lens, using a material the researchers developed: a transparent, highly conductive and stretchy mix of graphene and silver nanowires.
These lenses have been tested on rabbits, whose eyes are similar in size to humans. After five hours, no negative reaction was found on the animals, they didn’t rub their eyes or grow bloodshot, and the electronics kept working.
More researches are needed to find a transparent, highly conductive material that was also flexible. The transparent conductor of choice in conventional rigid electronics, indium tin oxide, is brittle, and it must be deposited at high temperatures that can melt a contact lens. Organic conductors, graphene and nanowires are flexible and transparent, but they’re not conductive enough.
The technology is still a long way off, as only a single pixel mounted to each lens. But in time, the smart contact lens will definitely become a threatening competitor to the new emerging Google Glass.