A collaborative effort between researchers from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, University of California San Diego, Paragon Vision Sciences, Innovega, Pacific Sciences and Engineering, and Rockwell Collins has developed a contact lens that can switch between regular and zoom vision. The entire device is only 1.55 mm thick and works thanks to tiny mirrors that can selectively direct light to move straight or through the built-in telescope.
The lens provides 2.8X magnification and works thanks to a smart pair of glasses that can detect when the wearer is winking. A right eye wink will turn on the magnification while a left wink returns the lens to normal mode. Normal eye blinks are ignored. The glasses don’t actually control the contact lens, instead polarizing light as it passes through them. The contact lens lets only light with certain polarization pass through the zoom and unmagnified paths, so that the glasses can select which section of the contact lens is transmitting the image ahead.
Eric Tremblay of EPFL just presented the new technology at the AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose, California.
EPFL press release: Telescopic Contact Lenses and Wink-Control Glasses