UW's prototype bionic contact lens declared safe on rabbit eye

SEATTLE -- Mankind is now one step closer to embodying the "Terminator."

This week, University of Washington researchers moved one step closer to creating bionic contact lenses for human use.

Researchers said the prototype lens, which was tested in the eye of a rabbit, proved safe. Their latest findings were published Tuesday in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering.

Complete with a built-in radio and antenna, the current version of the lens contains one pixel of information, but researchers believe it could one day display short emails and other information directly before the eye.

"So we're trying to convert contact lenses from relatively simple pieces of plastic or polymer to a functional system -- something that may even someday resemble the complexity of a cellular phone," said Babak Parviz, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical engineering.

At the center of the lens is a tiny blue LED light, which is fueled by an external power source. The lens' antenna receives the power, researchers said, and an integrated circuit allow the lens to store it.

Parviz hopes the lens will eventually send out information as well, allowing doctors to get real-time medical readings directly from the patient.

UW researchers are collaborating with researchers at Aalto University in Finland for this project.