Telescopic contact lenses

They’re not exactly pretty yet, but New Scientist has the skinny on a real James Bond-style super-gadget, telescopic contact lenses:

Developed by a team led by Eric Tremblay at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, the rigid contact lens covers the sclera, or whites of the eyes, making it larger than an ordinary lens. Within it are tiny aluminium mirrors, arranged in a ring around the centre. When light streams through, the mirrors bounce it around several times, causing objects to appear 2.8 times larger than they really are.

To toggle between the magnified and normal views, the lenses must be worn with a pair of electronic glasses. A wink with one eye makes the glasses switch to a polarised filter that directs light to the telescopic part of the lenses. Winking with the other eye switches the setting back to let light pass through normally.

…The researchers hope to begin human trials. So far the researchers have tested the tech with a life-size mechanical model of the eye that relays what it sees to a computer screen.

They’re intended to help people with macular degeneration, who otherwise would have to wear what amounts to mini-binoculars called “bioptic telescopes.” But it’s not hard to see all kinds of interesting applications for these.