Company Designs MEMS-Based Energy Harvester for Contact Lenses
Technology-enhanced contact lenses are poised to be the platform of the future for digital-information delivery, and now a medical-device company called EPGL Medical has designed an energy harvester that generates energy from eye movements and blinks to power contact lenses to support next-generation digital and biomedical applications. (Source: iOptik)
That is a scary scenario, Chuck. I guess what I'm wondering is whether the small amounts of energy generated are sufficient for powering the tiny electronics that deliver the info. I'd bet that next-gen contact lens tech as described in the article probably don't need high levels of power and the article points out that the human eye is always moving, even in sleep--that's definitely true for, at least, REM sleep stages (aka dreaming).
Yes, Ann, it is nightmarish to think you might suddenly and inexplicably be looking at stock quotes in front of your eyeball while you're tooling down the road or watching a movie. But I also agree with you that the miniscule amount of energy involved probably would prevent most of those scenarios from ever happening. After all, how much energy can be available from an eyeblink?
I'd like to see this power electronics and actuators that allow a contact lens to be flexed like our own cornea to overcome the shortcomings of contact lenses and glasses to provide normal vision to the millions afflicted. Anyhow, Thanks very much for posting
The other thing about this technology that I have trouble wrapping my head around (as a contact lens user) is just exactly where all the information will appear, and how I can turn it off. Can you imagine some kind of malfunction and instead of your normal vision, you're looking at stock quotes or something?? It all feels very Matrix-like and a bit unsettling, but also exciting.
I know, this technology is sort of mind-blowing, Chuck, and unfortunately, Michael didn't want to go into detail about the actual design for proprietary reasons. Because of this, I'm not 100 percent exactly sure how it works, but what you're envisioning or some combination thereof is probably about right. I think it's quite incredible technology but I guess we will have to see it in practice, which I think is still in the works.
So...an eye blink applies a mechanical stress to the piezo element, which creates electrical current in response? I'm having trouble getting a handle on this. Does the blink stretch the piezo material? Does it bend the piezo? Is one side of the piezelectric element in tension while the other side is in compression, like the bending of a beam? The whole idea that electricity can be created by something as small as an eyeblink is mind boggling.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
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