Polymer Film Coating Turns Contact Lenses into Computer Screens


Researchers from the University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute (UniSA) have created a new polymer coating material that turns contact lenses into computer displays. The team has successfully done their research on “Proof of Concept”: a study of a film of polymer coating that conducts electricity on a contact lens, with the possibility to develop mini electrical circuits that will be safe after worn by any person.

Drew Evans, UniSA scientist from the FII, the Associate professor, said, “This technology is the ‘game changer’ technology and could provide one of the safest methods to bring people and their smart devices closer together.”

“Rather than having something like a pair of glasses that’s acting like a computer, you can actually generate images directly on your contact lens,” Evan explained.

According to the team behind this innovation, this technology could be used in many sectors like wearable technology.

A polymer film coating transmits electricity on contact lenses, with the possibility to develop mini electrical circuits that are biologically safe to be worn by a person.

Evan said, “We have always known that our film coating technologies had the possibility for many applications and now we have taken that a step further by proving that we can make biocompatible, conducting polymers at the Nanoscale and grow them directly on a contact lens.”

Alphabet has been working on a lens designed especially for glucose monitoring. Previously known as Google Life Sciences, Alphabet’s lens has been tested, but most likely won’t provide any advanced functionality after tracking glucose levels.

In this case, the polymer material can be used to make anything from single-reason health sensors for displaying information and images.

Evan said, “We have proven that these materials go simultaneously and the next phase of the project is to make them stick and robust. The sky’s the limit and the work we are doing with our team has aimed, to give them a ‘game-changing’ technology. Obliviously, the time frame to go from where we are now to each of these different applications is unknown, but it’s the first step towards being able to do a lot of that.”

The team of scientists is working together with UK contact lens maker Contamac to get the technology from lab practical appliances and large-scale production.

“The excitement from the team’s point of view is that this opens up a range of new opportunities for their businesses. The next big step is to develop complementary technologies to read the information transferred by the conducting polymers. What is really meaningful is that the materials we are making are not only safe but also have the potential for a range of complete health monitoring appliances that could make life simpler for people struggling with chronic health problems”, said Evan.