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Bionic contact lens could project floating emails

"Since the time of Cleopatra, women have known that lengthening the eyelashes makes them more attractive," says Dr. Anthony Napoleon, a clinical psychologist with a special interest in body image. But while mascara and fake eyelashes merely create the illusion of luxuriant lashes, a prescription lotion called Latisse grows real lashes. Too bad the drug can cause "increased brown iris pigmentation," according to Consumer Reports. Maybe the drug should come with blue-tinted contact lenses. Steve Jurvetson/Flickr

(CBS) - Contact lenses take a leap forward with a new technology that projects text and images before your eyes.

The technology works by embedding a custom-made sapphire LED and circular antenna into a plastic contact lens. In the test, a single pixel was controlled by a remote radio frequency transmitting data from the lens.

If you've ever watched a "Terminator" movie, you can imagine how it works. There are endless possibilities for its use, like step-by-step GPS directions or a true virtual reality experience.

University of Washington associate professor of electrical engineering Babak Amir Parviz and ophthalmologist Tueng Shen collaborated with researchers at Aalto University in Finland on a paper called "A single-pixel wireless contact lens display," published in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering.

Their research was tested on "live, anesthetized rabbits." By the way, yes, viewing photos of rabbit eyes are as traumatic as it sounds.

No need to worry about the T-1000 coming to life just yet. The lens can only be worn for a few minutes at a time because of it's made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) - a hard plastic which doesn't allow the eye to breath. Not to mention, the energy source for the lens only works for in close proximity.

While the research is a mind-blowing accomplishment, the thought of emails or, God forbid, my Facebook news feed streamed in my eyes is terrifying. Migraine much?

Chenda Ngak

Chenda Ngak is the science and technology editor at

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