Academics in South Korea are currently working on a new type of eyewear. Printed in 3D and connected wirelessly, they are capable of monitoring brain and eye activity, but can also automatically turn into sunglasses or serve as a controller in a game.
With the Covid-19 outbreak, connected watches and bracelets became the talk of the town, and some manufacturers did not hesitate to highlight health-related functions, such as the detection of atrial fibrillation problems or blood oxygen levels. In South Korea, it was decided to go one step further by adding sensors on… glasses!
It is the American Chemical Society that echoes this with the publication of work carried out by engineers from the KU-KIST Graduate School of Converging Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation of Korea. Using a 3D printer, they first created a very classic spectacle frame. Then they put sensors in it, and that’s where it becomes very interesting.
Sensors to monitor brain activity…
First, they incorporated flexible electrodes located near the wearer’s ears and eyes. The first sensors act as an electroencephalogram for the electrical activity of the brain, while the second sensors track eye movements. The collected data is transmitted wirelessly from the glasses to an application. The first brain recordings have been conclusive, and they can be valuable in the health field.
Eye data has a wide range of applications. First of all, in video games, since engineers have succeeded in stacking bricks in a Tetris-type video game simply by moving their eyes. The designers explain that the sensor takes into account the angles of eye movements. This feature could eventually make it possible to play without joysticks or even replace a mouse on a computer. The aim is to go further in the human-machine interface by using the eyes, which is also promising for assisting people with severe disabilities such as tetraplegia.
Chaque branche possède des capteurs bien distincts © ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
A UV sensor to turn them into sunglasses
Other sensors placed on the temples include an accelerometer, similar to those found in smartphones or connected bracelets. It can therefore count the number of steps during the day, but also detect a fall. Again, this could be useful for monitoring elderly people, especially with wireless connection.
Finally, this is not new, even if it remains very rare, the lenses are able to darken automatically depending on the brightness. One of the temples incorporates a UV light sensor, capable of measuring the intensity of incoming ultraviolet rays. When sunlight is too intense, the sensor triggers an electrochromic ion gel that blocks the UV rays inside the lenses to darken them. The result is sunglasses!