Human Eye-Like Metalens With Artificial Muscle Could Cure Blurred Vision and Revolutionize Mobile Cameras

Tuesday, 27 February 2018 - 11:33AM
Science News
Tuesday, 27 February 2018 - 11:33AM
Human Eye-Like Metalens With Artificial Muscle Could Cure Blurred Vision and Revolutionize Mobile Cameras
< >
Image credit: YouTube

A groundbreaking new metalens invention paves the way to a clear future for more than just curing blurred vision—it could revolutionize mobile camera technology.

Scientists from the Harvard John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have potentially revolutionized lenses of all kinds (including corrective eye lenses and smartphone cameras) by creating an artificial eye which can adjust to compensate for imperfections in ordinary eyesight.

The new lens works a lot like a human eye, with artificial muscles that can contract to change the way light is focused, in order to provide a sharper, clearer image. Using this lens, it's possible to counteract three main causes of blurred vision in humans: focus, astigmatism, and image shift.

But, hey, maybe you won't wear glasses, so you're not that interested in clearer vision for those four-eyes who are always complaining about their eyesight. If so, this creation is great news for you as well - the artificial eye lens can potentially be produced for mobile smartphone cameras, providing a clearer, sharper image when you snap a selfie, and a powerful optical zoom that could be added to phones without needing a large, bulky additional lens.

This is only the beginning of the possible uses for the technology—the lens could be used to make facial recognition software more accurate (a big plus if you like to unlock your phone by staring at it for a few seconds), and can be used to miniaturize virtual reality headsets so that they're not quite to large and cumbersome.

According to Federico Capasso, the senior author on the paper detailing this new discovery:

Opening quote
"This demonstrates the feasibility of embedded optical zoom and autofocus for a wide range of applications including cell phone cameras, eyeglasses and virtual and augmented reality hardware. It also shows the possibility of future optical microscopes, which operate fully electronically and can correct many aberrations simultaneously."
Closing quote

All of this is fantastic news, but it does seem as if scientists are missing a wondrous potential use for the technology.

This lens can create a flat, unobtrusive optical zoom, and can correct a human being's vision so that they no longer struggle to focus their eyes.

Naturally, the most logical use for this technological breakthrough is to create telescopic vision for humans, as shown off in The Six Million Dollar Man!

Sadly, there is one big problem with this new lens at present that will probably keep people from wanting to have it too close to their faces: it takes a large amount of electricity in order to contract the artificial muscles so that the artificial eye can focus.

This will be the biggest stumbling block to actually being able to produce a commercially viable version of the lens for smartphone users, and it goes without saying that the nearsighted people of the world aren't in a hurry to strap zappy goggles to their faces in order to be able to see.

Still, one has to hope that this technology will be made available to the world soon so that we'll all get to benefit from telescopic vision and crisp smartphone images.

It's not every day that scientists invent a machine that can give people superpowers.

Science News