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Bionic Contact Lenses?

Ok, now if I can just figure out how to put my finger that close to my eyeball, I’m golden!  Yeah.  I have never had a contact lens in my eye.

Check this out – a bionic contact lens!  Researchers at the technology company Innovega have developed (and are still developing) some pretty crazy stuff – contact lenses that allow you to be fed information and that improve your distance vision, both macro and micro.  Now we’re talking turkey here.  Check out this first video:

Then check out this one – this is from Innovega itself:

Now this could be some serious sh*t here, people. Let’s see where this develops.  From the press release at Innovega:

SEATTLE, WA., January 8, 2012 – Innovega Inc., a developer of wearable displays that are free from usual bulky optics, announced today that it has demonstrated mega-pixel eyewear in a compact and stylish form-factor. Management now intends to accelerate delivery of designs, components and licenses to selected strategic partners. Innovega will be exhibiting at the 2012 International CES event from Booth # 73403 in the Ballroom at The Venetian Hotel.

“Conventional mobile device screens are too small to read and certainly too small to enjoy. Over the past months we have demonstrated contact lens enabled eyewear for mobile devices including smartphones, portable game devices and media players that deliver panoramic, high-resolution experiences for entertainment and planned Augmented Reality (AR)* applications”, said Steve Willey, Innovega CEO. “During this same period, we collaborated with partners to finalize initial specifications of launch platforms which include a screen size that is equivalent to a 240 inch television (viewed at a usual distance of 10 feet)”.

Willey added, “Unless the display industry can deliver transparent, high-performance and compact eyewear, developers of AR and other compelling media applications will simply fail to create the excitement that consumers crave and the functionality that professional users absolutely need”.

Innovega’s new and natural interface comprises familiar, light-weight eyewear working with advanced contact lenses. One hundred million global consumers, including more than 20% of America’s 18 to 34 year-old, already wear contact lenses. With low switching costs, Innovega expects many will join other early adopter groups who wish to access rich media while remaining fully involved in their real-world activities. Management believes that consumers will be thrilled to wear and benefit from its new lens-based eyewear given the unique combination of benefits that this new interface offers.

Innovega designers and partners considered the future of personal media, social networking, and mobile computing, and converged upon an aggressive design-point that meets today’s needs as well as demands of high-performance AR which require a see-through and panoramic display interface. Innovega refers to its innovative product as a ‘lifestyle interface‘, since consumers view their digital content in a way that is similar to how they see the world around them. By providing a transparent, fashionable, and comfortable interface that is consistent with today’s active lifestyles, the architecture also eliminates the social barrier that traditional opaque and bulky video eyewear seems to create.

The Innovega iOptikTM architecture meets the demanding performance requirements of AR by eliminating the focusing optics that tend to limit the field of view of displayed media. Innovega replaces them with micro- and nano-fabricated optical elements that are integrated into otherwise conventional contact lenses. The recent demonstration of stylish, megapixel eyewear has proven the power of this proprietary architecture.

Innovega will provide the new system to media and consumer electronics OEMs who wish to design natural display interfaces that consumers want and need. Innovega believes that its new personal display interface will become an essential social media and entertainment accessory.

* Augmented Reality – Definition from “Wikipedia”: Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data … With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real-world of the user becomes interactive and digitally manipulatable. Artificial information about the environment and its objects can be overlaid on the real world.

 Way, way cool.  Stay tuned.
Thanks to Arya-Dragonqueen for the cool bionic eye image!

Tanya Vlach Wants to Grow A Bionic Eye

Tanya Vlach is looking for someone to help her invent a “bionic” eye that has a camera inside.  Watch this:

Tanya is looking for donors and engineers to help her create an experimental project featuring her prosthetic eye and a camera.  It sucks that she had to experience such tragedy in order to have this opportunity, but I have to say that I am inspired and excited to see how her project comes out.  If you’re interested in helping Tanya make her project come to life, please help her out over at Kickstarter.

Details from her Kickstarter page:

Before we get into the nitty gritty details of the eye camera, let’s back up a few years. In 2005, I was in a near death car accident. Centimeters away from death, I managed to pull through. Although grateful to be alive, I lost my left eye in the tumble and suffered frontal lobe minor brain injury and severe depression.

I entered the vast world of the Internet and chronicled my experiences on my blog, One-Eyed. I posted about new developments in technology that would help me regain sight. Soon I began envisioning a sci-fi plot twist to my predicament. I pitched my idea to Wired Founder Kevin Kelly. Intrigued, he posted my call out to engineers to help build an implant of a miniature camera inside my prosthetic eye. Immediately the idea went viral and I received hundreds of international engineering proposals, support from my  one-eyed community, and thousands of media inquiries. I became the media haven for transhumanism and the subject of controversy around engineering the body. Since then, I’ve been plotting new strategies to tell my story, both my personal one and the one of my sci-fi alter ego, into a transmedia platform, which will include: a graphic novel, an experimental documentary, a web series, a game, and a live performance. Grow a new eye – is about engineering a new bionic camera eye. 

This is an awesome story.  You need to go check out Tonya’s blog page, Eye, Tanya.  Let me know if you end up supporting the project in any way, leave a comment of support here for Tanya.  I really hope that this technology advances in a direction that helps for everyone.