Rabbits now have cooler contact lenses than humans. A research team at Washington University has successfully tested a new contact lens containing a single LED. The contacts proved themselves safe on rabbits, though they're still limited in actual usefulness. The tiny circuitry can currently only support one LED, which isn't enough to do much of anything with, and the external power source can only be centimeters away from the eye.
But in time, the research can lead to contact lenses with real HUDs. The rabbits won't have much use for them, but we'll be totally psyched.
Fitting more circuitry onto the lens will be a challenge, and it could take years to develop a power source that can supply energy to the contact without being intrusive. The researchers had to find a way to meld heat-intensive circuitry manufacturing with the more delicate process used to create contact lenses. They managed, though the first real challenge in creating the lens had nothing to do with the circuitry--it had to do with the eye itself.
Integrating LEDs into a contact lens is cool, but under normal conditions we actually wouldn't be able to see them. At least, not very well. We can't focus on something so close to our eye, so Washington worked with a university in Finland to shorten the focal distance and make the HUD visible right from the surface of the eye.
Now it's a race: will this research team beat Sensimed to the market with the first smart contact lens sometime in the next decade?