WebWise news report - Bionic contact lenses
If you can't get enough of futuristic films or TV, then you'd be forgiven for thinking that one of the most recent technological advances has been around for years. This week Washington University announced that bionic contact lenses had reached a crucial stage in their development and could be well on their way to projecting anything from video games to emails in front of the wearer's eyes.
Having been tested on rabbit eyes, researchers believe the device is suitable for humans and could be used to provide medical information to the user by linking to biosensors in their body. It's also expected it could achieve both its practical and recreational potential as an alternative to sat nav for drivers, as well as having a large impact on video gaming.
Still needing to overcome obstacles like battery life, lead researcher Professor Babak Parviz said: "Our next goal is to incorporate some predetermined text in the contact lens."
This could mean no more looking down at your phone or laptop to check your emails, but instead reading them in the supermarket aisle while examining salmon fillets.
In the video gaming world it sounds like it could be a fantastic way of feeling right in the middle of the action, but in the rest of our lives - even for medical updates, it seems our eyes would become just another screen. I struggle to see how looking through a lens rather than spending 30 seconds retrieving a phone from our pockets would be that much of a time or space saver. Are we on a path to de-cluttering our lives at the expense of our bodies?
Compared to current sat nav technology, such an invention could be seen as a safer alternative to flicking your eyes between the road and a screen, but surely there are risks and indeed legal issues to contend with? There are enough horror stories - OK, testaments to idiocy - of sat nav followers driving up railway tracks or into lakes because of incorrect instructions; but having a roadmap projected on your windscreen sounds like it could be more distracting, and even faintly hypnotising.
With every development come new questions about what it could mean for the future. How long before we become walking computers, using search-engine supported brains to answer questions we used to know the answers to?
The possibilities afforded by technology are fascinating, and no one can predict how new creations will eventually be used; but for all the speculation, it's important to keep the ideas flowing, for researchers to continue to push boundaries, and then for the individual to decide whether it could improve their life.