Though bifocal and progressive contact lenses are now widely available, they’re still “dumb” devices that require the user to adjust to them. Researchers at the University of California San Diego and the Harbin Institute of Technology in China have now developed a biomimetic soft contact lens that can be made to zoom in and out by the user simply blinking.
The lens itself has not yet been tried directly on the human eye. It is still contained within a pretty large electromagnetic system that’s used to change its shape. But, it was tried quite successfully by people wearing electrodes stuck to the skin around the eye that measured the electrooculographic signals coming from within.
These signals served as triggers for the user to change the focal point of the lens, so as the individual wearing the electrodes blinked a certain number of times, the lens automatically changed its shape to that desired zoom factor.
The researchers hope that in the not too distant future they’ll be able to miniaturize their proof-of-concept prototype so that it can be positioned over the eye.
Here’s a set of photos the researches made that show the lens changing its focus depending on the user’s intentions:
Study in Advanced Functional Materials: A Biomimetic Soft Lens Controlled by Electrooculographic Signal