These bionic lenses change their focus in no time (literally!)

The world is entering the era of "human-machine interfaces", which use electrophysiological signals to control various mechanisms. This means, for example, that a disabled person does not need to press a button - it is enough to move his leg and his wheelchair will go in the right direction. And one of the latest developments in this area is bionic lenses, which help the eyes to focus on distant or near objects.

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego are calling the new lenses "soft robots." It is a smart mechanism that uses electroactive polymer actuators to change the curvature of a flexible elastomer lens. The robot receives electrical signals directly from the eyes, which generate them even when the eyelids are closed or in sleep. That is, there is a constant one-way connection between the lenses and the eyes of a person.

So far, the lenses recognize and execute two commands. Rapid double blinking of the eyes and the characteristic electrical impulse appearing at the same time are interpreted as a signal for lens expansion. With maximum force, the elastomer can increase the focal length by 32%. Repeated double blinking causes the robot to return to its original position by squeezing the lens. Synchronization between the eyes and the system is almost instantaneous due to the rapid reaction of polymers to electrical impulses.

Such lenses are a typical device using human-machine interfaces, and in the near future, their developers hope, will lead to the creation of a universal, fully functional eye prosthesis. But the scope of application of such interfaces is not limited to helping people with disabilities, it is easy to see that a lens with a variable focus function also has a military potential for the tasks of special services. The most attractive thing is that they do not integrate into the human body, and therefore do not require the user to turn into a cyborg.