Astounding possibilities in the optics-sector: contact lenses with built-in tele-converter and zoom-able glasses operated by blinking


The following news are not directly related to photography, but they do show what has become possible in optics. As EurekaAlert has reported, scientists of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) have conceived two very interesting optical aids. The first is a tele-contact-lens with a 2.8 converter which increases the focus length of the human eye from 45mm to about 126mm. The tele-contact-lens has been announced a number of times over the last couple of years, but the first prototype was presented at this year’s AAAS Annual meeting in San Jose. The contact lens is only 1.55 mm thick and contains a small reflector telescope with numerous small mirrors and tunnels with a diameter of 0.1 mm which will supply the cornea with oxygen. You are probably asking yourself what this tiny “accessory portrait tele lens” for the eye looks like – below you can see it next to a 25-cent-piece.


Image source: EPFL

© Eric Tremblay & Joe Ford

No less impressive are glasses with an integrated zoom that are controlled by blinking, and which have also been introduced at the AAAS Annual Meeting in the middle of February. The glasses make use of a small LED and photo-detectors to distinguish normal blinking from an intended one. This is important as the glasses should not zoom in and out uncontrolled and with every bat of the eyelid. This could put the wearer at serious risk. Winking with the right eye activates the zoom – batting only the left lid makes the glasses zoom out again. The zoom appears to be using polarization. The prototype shown during the presentation (LCglasses.pptx) looks like modified LCD shutter glasses.

I have a feeling that optical technology is going to make a huge leap forward in the next couple of years, and in the end, that is something of which we photographers are also going to profit. 🙂

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