Scientists Develop Robotic Contact Lenses That Let Users Zoom with the Blink of an Eye

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Imagine being able to control your vision with just the blink of an eye!

Researchers from the University of California San Diego have developed a new type of contact lens that utilizes robotics, according to a new study published by Advanced Functional Materials.

Unlike many soft robots — a type of robotics that deals with utilizing materials that can twist and bend, which are controlled manually or by pre-written programs — the new technology was developed to harness natural electrical signals produced by eye movements.

Researchers measured the electrooculographic signals generated by eye movements, and then made a type of biometric lens that would respond to normal eye behavior, like moving up and down or from side to side and blinking.

Additionally, by blinking, the lenses can change their focal length, which amounts to being able to zoom in and out just as users do on their phones. 

As the lenses function from electrical signals, they should be able to work even if a person cannot see, which could be useful in helping to create visual prostheses.  

“Even if your eye cannot see anything, many people can still move their eyeball and generate this electro-oculographic signal,” lead researcher Shengqiang Cai explained to New Scientist.

Although further development is still needed, in the future, researchers indicated in the study that the new technology could also be used in “adjustable glasses and remotely operated robots.”

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