Internet-Connected Contact Lenses and Brain Chips Are Not Far Off

Interscatter Communication uses tiny, low-power devices.

Youtube/UW Computer Science and Engineering

What’s the only thing better than glasses that can connect to the internet? Contact lenses, of course.

Internet-connected contact lenses, brain chips, and other tiny gizmos may seem like the kind of advanced technology that will only exist when we’re meaningfully interacting with robots and using hoverboards to get around, but researchers at the University of Washington are closer than ever to making these gadgets a reality.

The new technology, called “interscatter communication,” uses low-power devices to reflect wireless transmissions, turning them into their own data-stacked wifi signals in the process. Interscatter only needs to reflect existing wireless Bluetooth, wifi, or ZigBee radio signals and not produce its own, which makes it easy to incorporate the technology into really small devices that use only a fraction of a single watt, like contact lenses or brain chips.

The researchers behind Interscatter believe the new technology could broaden our already expansive level of connectivity.

“Providing the ability for these everyday objects like credit cards – in addition to implanted devices – to communicate with mobile devices can unleash the power of ubiquitous connectivity,” Shyam Gollakota, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, told Geekwire.

The implications of this software extend beyond technology, too: Interscatter could also find footing in modern medicine, revolutionizing the management of chronic disease.

The research team, which will report its findings next week at the Association for Computing Machinery’s SIGCOMM conference in Brazil, is still working on ways to optimize data transmission rates, but the results of the project released so far signal a major technological breakthrough that may not be as far off as we once thought.

In the future, whether you’re using your interscatter contact lenses to track your blood sugar or quickly check your Facebook notifications, it may be hard to remember a time when computers and phones were the only gadgets connected to the internet.

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