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Contact Lenses to Double as TVs

Contact lenses with metal connectors for electronic circuits were safely worn by rabbits in lab tests. (Image credit: University of Washington)

A futurist in Britain predicts contact lenses will double as TVs in 10 years time.

"You will just pop it into your eye in the morning and take it out at the end of the day," said Ian Pearson in The Daily Mail.

While it's unclear why anyone would want such an annoying device, you'd change the channel with voice commands, the thinking goes, and body heat would run the electronics. The whole experience might then be more immersive, according to a related report commissioned by electrical retailer Comet.

"We could even get to the point where we'll be able to immerse ourselves in a football game, making it feel like you're running alongside your favorite player or berating the ref," the report states.

While the idea may sound farfetched, it's actually rooted in technologies that are being developed. Already, glasses have been turned into private theaters.

More dramatically, last year engineers attached electronic circuit and lights to a regular contact lens as a proof of concept for future digital contact lenses that would zoom in on distant objects or display useful facts.

And this weekend, researchers announced a step forward in miniaturizing transistors to the point that they'll be transparent — a key to creating informational displays on windshields or, one might imagine, contact lenses.

Robert Roy Britt is the Editorial Director of Imaginova. In this column, The Water Cooler, he takes a daily look at what people are talking about in the world of science and beyond.

Robert Roy Britt
Rob was a writer and editor at Space.com starting in 1999. He served as managing editor of Live Science at its launch in 2004. He is now Chief Content Officer overseeing media properties for the sites’ parent company, Purch. Prior to joining the company, Rob was an editor at The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, and in 1998 he was founder and editor of the science news website ExploreZone. He has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in California.