We’ve all seen the sci-fi and super spy – or even the animated kids’ shows – that have the main character using electronic sensors on their eyes, scanning bad guys, villains or maps.
Just like the hoverboard, electronic lenses were assumed to just be something that would remain fiction for a long time, possibly not until mid-way through the century, but now the first steps down this road are coming in the form of the electronic contact lenses (or ECLs) in our immediate future.
A company by the name of E-Vision Smart Optics is developing a new lens that would give the user adjustable vision, meaning that multi-focal glasses could easily be replaced by these ECLs that are able to adjust the optics for near, far or intermediate distances.
The technology is already being used in other optical devices, such as electronic focusing eyeglasses, and the augmented reality displays that many movie-buffs and video game lovers are calling to become mainstream, but how does the technology to operate these systems work in a small lens space?
The Florida-based company has already issued a patent for their new technology, which is basically a flexible lens, containing electro-active materials.
The company itself calls the model a ‘flexible dynamic electro-active lens.’ The lens would – for all intents and purposes – feel exactly like a regular flexible contact lens, but with an electric field attached.
This electric field would then be surrounded by a layer of liquid crystal material that would coat the lens. These would be activated by electrodes, creating a hyperopic, myopic and aspheric shape in the lens.
The wearer would then be able to pre-set focus ranges to change the prescription quickly, adapting to new situations as they arrive, and could flick through which ever settings they wanted to use.
According to the company, the ECL is in full development now, and the first prototype will be available by the time the next year is coming to an end – electronic lenses may be available to us by 2016 at the latest, and with it the possibility that the future is a lot closer than we’ve thought before.