"If we can make them as comfortable as normal contact lenses, you don't feel you're wearing them," Parviz said. Contacts would allow users to take their displays with them anywhere, hands and headset-free, he added. "In a sense, it's the ultimate electronic gear that is totally unnoticeable."
Arnaud Bertsch is a microsystems researcher at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland who previously worked on incorporating sensors into a soft contact lens for glaucoma detection. That project resulted in a commercial product now sold by the Swiss company Sensimed.
"There's still a little more integration to do to have something that can be used as a device for projecting an image onto the retina, but basically the concept is here," he said of the new contact lens.
Bertsch thinks that it could take 10 years to achieve fully functional computerized contact lens displays, but added that the field has taken big steps forward with help from miniaturization.
"Five years ago, it was something like science fiction. When we started to discuss integrating things into a contact lens, people were laughing," he said. "Now it's real."