Eric BlairJuly 30th

It appears that the future is officially upon us, as scientists have created a contact lens which can be controlled by eye movements - including blinking twice to zoom in and out.

The impressive feat has been accomplished by a group of scientists in California, and while most ‘soft robots’ require pre-programming or manual control, the group working out of the University of California San Diego have managed to create a lens controlled by the eyeball itself.

The team achieved this by mimicking the natural electrical signals in the human eyeball that are active even when the eye is closed, using them to control the lens.


They measured the electrical potential of the eye, called the electro-oculographic signal, and then designed the lenses to respond to that activity.

Lead researcher Shengqiang Cai from the university told New Scientist: “Even if your eye cannot see anything, many people can still move their eyeball and generate this electro-oculographic signal.”

The lens is made from polymers that expand when electric current passes through them and is manipulated using a series of five electrodes surrounding the eye which essentially act like muscles.

Most impressively, research published in Advanced Functional Materials, explains how the lens can be switched between ‘near vision mode’ and ‘distance vision mode’ by the user blinking twice and that within each vision mode the lens will still be able to move with the direction of the eye - awesome right?


According to the paper, A Biomimetic Soft Lens Controlled by Electrooculographic Signal: “The four moving directions of the eyes could control the planar movements of the tunable lens and double blink of the eyes could trigger the focal length change of the lens.”

The hope for the future is that the system could help specialists to create a prosthetic eye or a camera that can be controlled using the eyes alone.

I can’t even decide what to have for lunch!

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