Electronic contact lenses, Terminator style

So a few years ago, I wrote a comic book based on the popular Terminator movies. One Iranian playing with a work of science fiction, if you will.

But here’s another Iranian tangentially related to Terminator, this time working in the field of actual science: Professor Babak Parviz of the University of Washington has developed a proof-of-concept contact lens that displays visual feedback right in front of the wearer’s eye.


For a brief overview of his work, check out this short article on PopSci. But if you’d like to get a lot more in-depth and technical, read this rather lengthy article written by Mr. Parviz himself, over at the IEEE Spectrum website.

In the Terminator movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character sees the world with data superimposed on his visual field—virtual captions that enhance the cyborg’s scan of a scene. In stories by the science fiction author Vernor Vinge, characters rely on electronic contact lenses, rather than smartphones or brain implants, for seamless access to information that appears right before their eyes.

These visions (if I may) might seem far-fetched, but a contact lens with simple built-in electronics is already within reach; in fact, my students and I are already producing such devices in small numbers in my laboratory at the University of Washington, in Seattle.

I love how the best and brightest scientists and engineers all seem to be inspired by works of science fiction.

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