Google Glass is great, but it's also big, clunky, and exceedingly obvious. What would be more practical is something that could be fitted directly onto the eye, like a contact lens. Korean researchers have taken a major step towards achieving that goal.

A group led by Jang-Ung Park recently embedded an inorganic light-emitting diode directly into an off-the-shelf contact lens. They were able to do so by developing a transparent, highly conductive, and flexible mix of graphene and silver nanowires. And after testing these lenses on rabbits — animals with eyes similar to our own — they found no negative effects or irritation.


The display was only one pixel across, but it served as a good proof-of-concept. The same sort of technology, once refined and developed further, could result in displays similar to what's being achieved with Glass.

This new type of hybrid transparent and stretchable electrode could eventually lead to flexible displays, solar cells, and entirely new kinds of electronic devices.


"Wearing eye contact lenses, picture-taking and scanning, is not science fiction anymore," noted the researchers in a statement.

Check out the entire study at Nano Letters: "High-Performance, Transparent, and Stretchable Electrodes Using Graphene–Metal Nanowire Hybrid Structures."

Image: Ulsan National Institute of Science & Technology (UNIST).