back to article Circuits so flexible they'd wrap around your hair

This could be the ultimate in “wearable computing”: while CES visitors are excited about Intel's earbuds, Swiss scientists have created a circuit so flexible it can wrap around a human hair. The first test of the circuit, created by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETZ), was to embed it into …

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  2. Neoc

    Now if they can add semi-transparent screens on there, that'd be a decent wearable device - without looking like an idiot (yes, I'm looking at you Google Glass).

    1. DougS Silver badge

      You might still look like an idiot

      When you walk around with a faraway look in your eyes because you're surfing the web and not paying attention to the world around you. When you walk into a fountain, off a dock, or into traffic. When you crash headlong into a line of stopped cars ahead of you.

      Maybe YOU won't, but people will. Technology is great, but giving people more ways to ignore what's around them is going to inevitably lead to more people ignoring what's around them. As has already been shown by the large increase in accidents attributable to texting while driving.

      Imagine if you can read texts/emails in your contact lens and send them by thinking. Hopefully by the time that becomes a reality self driving cars are also a reality so distracted people are only a danger to themselves, instead of others.

      1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

        Re: You might still look like an idiot

        "When you walk around with a faraway look in your eyes because you're surfing the web and not paying attention to the world around you."

        not that this isn't already the case with mobes

        I refuse to apologise to some twat who believes that communication takes precedence over navigation..

        1. monkeyfish

          Re: You might still look like an idiot

          Moot anyway, I'm pretty sure your eyes can't focus on something as close as the end of your eyeball.

          1. Gob Smacked
            Facepalm

            Re: You might still look like an idiot

            "Moot anyway, I'm pretty sure your eyes can't focus on something as close as the end of your eyeball."

            Just project it on to the retina...

          2. Suricou Raven

            Re: You might still look like an idiot

            That can be solved with clever optics. A more interesting concern is trying to actually look at anything - the image will move with your eyeball, so as soon as you turn your gaze to part of the image that part will be elsewhere. You'd need some way to actively sense eyeball position and translate the image accordingly, and very quickly too.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: A more interesting concern is trying to actually look at anything

              It's actually even more interesting - an image that's fixed on the retina simply disappears. The rods and cones only sense the time derivative of light intensity, a spatial contrast is only made visible by constant saccades and a bit of integration going on in the brain.

              1. DougS Silver badge

                Re: A more interesting concern is trying to actually look at anything

                So detect the saccades and move the image around to compensate.

        2. JCitizen
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: You might still look like an idiot

          Oh well! We will be driven around by robots, so we won't need to worry about crashing. I saw a show today about Nissan announcing that they will be selling robot cars in the US - I assume if it is approved, that is! This will be very soon, they showed one of them driving around with no driver or human on board at all. Maybe they can make a Segway like that so we don't walk off cliffs and stuff! HA! We all will be moving around with our heads in the clouds(or up our duffs) very soon! :D

      2. Martin Budden
        Go

        Re: You might still look like an idiot

        Hopefully by the time that becomes a reality self driving cars are also a reality

        I want my self-driving car! I want it now!!!

        1. M7S

          @ Martin Budden - Lightweight

          "I want my self-driving car! I want it now!!!" - Oh ye of little ambition.

          I want my self-flying car! I want it now!!!

          (Before anyone tries to up the ante, lets not get silly about having teleportation unrealistiacally early eh?, not before say 2017 anyway)

  3. Joe Pineapples
    Thumb Up

    Can't see the Bluetooth chip there to communicate the occular pressure to anyone who'd actually care :-) Great advance though.

  4. Cliff

    Simple sounding and clever

    Often a winning combination, will be watching this space.

    The battery issue might be a tougher one to solve, mind. Imagine if your circuit requires 4 x D cells...

    1. monkeyfish

      Re: Simple sounding and clever

      Marry it to the tech that harvests spare static electricity from your body. If you need 4 D cells for your circuit, you probably shouldn't be sticking it in your eye in the first place.

      1. Crisp Silver badge

        Re: Harvesting spare static electricity

        I'd have thought a better solution would be those power cells that metabolise glucose.

        1. Nigel 11

          Re: Harvesting spare static electricity

          I'd have thought a better solution would be those power cells that metabolise glucose.

          Good idea for implants in blood-perfused tissue, but the surface of an eye is not well-supplied with blood or glucose.

          The best way for an eyeball implant would probably be photovoltaic ("solar power"). Eyeballs are well supplied with light, at least while you are awake. Transparent solar cells can be made (indeed, large ones are being installed as windows on "green" skyscrapers).

          Another way would be wireless power (I'm assuming only microwatts are needed). You'd need to wear a power transmitter elsewhere on your person if continuous power was needed. You might be able to scavenge power from a 21st century environment if continuous power was not vital. (ie, parasitise off WLANs and mobile phones).

          Yet another way would be piezo-kinetic power scavenging (as in the Seiko Kinetic watches). Again I can see that working much better for implants in other parts of the body.

          1. Andrew Newstead

            Re: Harvesting spare static electricity

            The piezo electric method could be the way using the motion of a blink. This would compress the circuit regularly, generating a smidgin of power and a capacitor in the circuit could store and smooth the power pulse into a current.

          2. NumptyScrub

            Re: Harvesting spare static electricity

            quote: "Yet another way would be piezo-kinetic power scavenging (as in the Seiko Kinetic watches). Again I can see that working much better for implants in other parts of the body."

            Spend the next 30 seconds actively thinking about how much your eyes move while you read this text ;)

            Assuming you can make the circuit small enough and harvest enough energy from it, the eyes should be able to provide enough kinetic movement over time themselves.

            1. Nigel 11

              Re: Harvesting spare static electricity

              I was thinking how completely irritating and disabling it is, if there's anything on your eyeball that doesn't move exactly the same way as the eyeball. Think of a grain of sand in your eye, or conjunctivitis.

              If the implant does react exactly the same as the eyeball with no added mechanical resistance, there's no way to harvest mechanical energy.

              Solar power sums: the usual figure is 100 watts per square meter harvested from bright sunlight. That's 100 microwatts per square millimeter (10 microwatts on a dull day, maybe 1 microwatt indoors with office grade lighting).

    2. Tom_

      Re: Simple sounding and clever

      That's fine. Just use a mains adaptor.

  5. oldcoder

    A simple antenna ring/coil around the rim of the contact

    Just let it collect background noise. The noise exists everywhere, even where nothing else electronic is present.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: A simple antenna ring/coil around the rim of the contact

      You won't get useful amounts of energy from the cosmic microwave background, nor from acoustic noise somewhere you can hear a pin drop.

      Mind you, acoustic scavenging might actually fly in some workplaces I can think of!

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: A simple antenna ring/coil around the rim of the contact

        "You won't get useful amounts of energy from the cosmic microwave background,"

        True.

        The background microwave "noise" provided by the fog of mobile phone towers in most parts of the developed world should be quite adequate for a little NFC system.

        The definition of "remote" reading in this context is likely to be <1m

        But the tech to make it flexible enough to go on a contact lens is staggering.

        Of course for those HUD contact lenses some people will have to learn to put contacts in in the first place.

        Which looks a bit nasty to me.

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