LEDs are consolidating their role as a versatile part of our lives. Not only are they an increasingly popular form of lighting, they are also helping to turn science fiction into science fact.

For example, many people are familiar with the Terminator films. In these, a cyborg is able to see data on a screen in front of his eyes. Scientists at the University of Washington now believe LEDs placed in contact lenses can make this concept a reality.

Scientists have experimented with LEDs and contact lenses for several years.  Their starting point is simple. 100 million people wear contact lenses. The lenses are safe and practical. So by implanting LEDs and other technology into contact lenses, is it possible to create a “smart” device for everyday use?

The scientists’ answer to this question is “yes”. Within 10 years, they are confident they can create dual-purpose contact lenses.

Wearers can use the lenses to correct problems with vision. And by switching on a separate, wireless device in a bag or pocket, they can also use micro LEDs in each lens to access a wealth of visual data.

The micro LEDs will work by forming tiny images. Special optics in the contact lenses will project the images on to the retina of each eye. This method of projection gives the impression of a screen appearing in the air one metre away.

Among the many uses for this technology is Internet access on the move. Scientists also propose using wireless body sensors linked to the lenses to update wearers on the state of their health. In fact, don’t be surprised if the LED contact lenses of the future have as many apps as a smart phone!

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