三星研究Google Glass形態的隱形眼鏡

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文章分類 : Samsung

穿戴式科技是近來最熱門的科技應用趨勢,而搜尋巨人打造的 Google Glass ,更是其中備受矚目者。不過,儘管一些科技狂熱者不介意,對一般人,尤其是沒戴眼鏡的人來說,這副「未來眼鏡」在臉上,多少還是有點突兀。幸好,這個未來即使成真,也許也只是過渡期──已有研究發表,利用集合透明、高導電性與彈性等特質的新奈米材料,「顯示」在隱形眼鏡上,已經不是夢想。

Soft contact lenses could display information to the wearer and provide continuous medical monitoring.

Soft contact lenses could display information to the wearer and provide continuous medical monitoring.

穿戴式科技是近來最熱門的科技應用趨勢,而搜尋巨人打造的 Google Glass ,更是其中備受矚目者。不過,儘管一些科技狂熱者不介意,對一般人,尤其是沒戴眼鏡的人來說,這副「未來眼鏡」在臉上,多少還是有點突兀。幸好,這個未來即使成真,也許也只是過渡期──已有研究發表,利用集合透明、高導電性與彈性等特質的新奈米材料,「顯示」在隱形眼鏡上,已經不是夢想。

由數家機構,包含二家 Samsung 的研發分支部門,所組成的研發團隊,日前成功將新奈米材料所構成的「一個」發光二極體 (LED),安裝在一般市面上的隱形眼鏡,而試戴的對象──眼球大小與人類相當的兔子,在配戴了 5 個小時後,也未出現血絲、搓揉眼睛等不適的情況,智慧隱形眼鏡的可行性,可說大大的提升。

嚴格來說,過去其實不乏電子隱形眼鏡的研究──呼應了許多穿戴式科技的重點方向:健康醫療監測,瑞士一家公司的產品,便能夠 24 小時監測眼壓,來追蹤青光眼患者病情。然而,韓國蔚山科學暨科技研究院人員 Jang-Ung Park 帶領團隊打造的產品,卻是瞄準更一般、普遍的應用,也就是像 Google Glass 等具顯示螢幕的延伸智慧周邊。

不過,鑑於目前這片「準‧智慧隱形眼鏡」上,仍只能顯示一個像素 ( 只有一個發光二極體 ),距離成為真正可用的「螢幕」,甚至未來真正商業化,顯然還有一段路要走。

Source : MIT Technology Review

For those who find Google Glass indiscreet, electronic contact lenses that outfit the user’s cornea with a display may one day provide an alternative. Built by researchers at several institutions, including two research arms of Samsung, the lenses use new nanomaterials to solve some of the problems that have made contact-lens displays less than practical.

A group led by Jang-Ung Park, a chemical engineer at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, mounted a light-emitting diode on an off-the-shelf soft contact lens, using a material the researchers developed: a transparent, highly conductive, and stretchy mix of graphene and silver nanowires. The researchers tested these lenses in rabbits—whose eyes are similar in size to humans’—and found no ill effects after five hours. The animals didn’t rub their eyes or grow bloodshot, and the electronics kept working. This work is described online in the journal Nano Letters.

A handful of companies and researchers have developed electronic contact lenses over the past five years. Sensimed, of Switzerland, makes a lens for 24-hour monitoring of eye pressure in glaucoma patients, and other researchers, including University of Washington professor and Google Glass project founder Babak Parviz, have built contact-lens displays. But these devices have used rigid or nontransparent materials.

Park wants to make contact lenses that have all the functions of a wearable computer but remain transparent and soft. “Our goal is to make a wearable contact-lens display that can do all the things Google Glass can do,” he says. To make it work, they needed a transparent, highly conductive material that was also flexible. The transparent conductor of choice in conventional rigid electronics, indium tin oxide, is brittle, and it must be deposited at high temperatures that would melt a contact lens. Organic conductors, graphene, and nanowires are flexible and transparent, but they’re not conductive enough.

Park, working with Sung-Woo Nam of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that sandwiching silver nanowires between sheets of graphene yielded a composite with much lower electrical resistance than either material alone. The industry standard for a transparent conductor is a resistance of 50 ohms per square or less, says Nam; their material has a resistance of about 33 ohms per square. The material also transmits 94 percent of visible light, and it stretches. The researchers make these conductive sheets by depositing liquid solutions of the nanomaterials on a spinning surface, such as a contact lens, at low temperatures.

Working with researchers at Samsung, they coated a contact lens with the stretchy conductor, then placed a light-emitting diode on it. Although it would be an exaggeration to call this a display, since there is just one pixel, it’s possible this kind of material will be a necessary component in future contact-lens displays, says Herbert De Smet, who works on electronic contact lenses at Ghent University in Belgium but was not involved with the work.

Nam believes medical applications of electronic contact lenses may be even more promising than eyeball-mounted displays. He is currently using the graphene-nanowire conductors to make biosensors that could monitor health conditions by sampling the chemistry of the eye’s tear film. And De Smet’s group is developing lenses that can actively filter light to compensate for vision problems.

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