Scientists in Scotland have just revealed the world’s first contacts that are able to shoot out laser beams. Soon everyone will have access to this incredible superpower…minus the burning other people to shreds part.
According to a report put out of the University of St. Andrews, researchers placed a special semiconducting polymer in the center of the lenses to create this incredible laser beam technology. While these polymers have all the hardware they need to emit green lasers, they are remarkably thin at only 1/5,000th of a millimeter.
When the optometrist community heard about these lenses they immediately raised concerns that placing a laser so close to the retinae. In response to these understandable worries, St. Andrews scientists noted that their lenses emit the lowest frequency lasers on the spectrum. Even though these lasers are right by a wearer’s retinae, they shouldn’t cause any permanent damage.
Although researchers haven’t been able to study the safety of these contacts on human eyes yet, they have placed them on cow eyes for testing. Data from these cow eye tests doesn’t indicate these lenses do harm to the retinae.
One design issue with these contacts is that the laser has to be activated by shining light into the eyes. This feature obviously makes it inconvenient and uncomfortable to turn the lasers on and off on command.
So, these contact lenses are cool and all, but what purpose do they serve (other than ticking off co-workers, of course)? Designers propose a few novel uses for these laser beam lenses including scanning barcodes and checking for counterfeit currency. The team behind these lenses has already started testing the accuracy of the laser’s scanner on a £5 bill.
People involved in augmented reality (AI) technology are particularly interested in these new contact lenses. Some developers believe this new laser technology could be used to help people using AI devices better interact with the world around them.
Key researchers involved in this project include Drs. Markus Karl, James M. E. Glackin, and Marcel Schubert.
Anyone interested in learning more about this technology should check out the latest edition of Nature. The medical journal published this study under the title, “Flexible and ultra-lightweight polymer membrane lasers.”