Driving with the birds

From artificial corneas made from 3D printers to a light-adaptive contact lens, optics is fast evolving. So what’s next… ?

Fifth Element car

The future is here – we will be zooming around roads above the ground like Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich in Fifth Element before we know it. Ok, perhaps not, but Uber’s partnership with the US Army and NASA, which was announced this week, aims to have electric airborne vehicles off the ground by 2020.

This is just one example of how technology is evolving...and fast. Just 20 or so years ago my 12-year-old self was sitting in a cinema watching this concept painted as the 23rd century future and now it’s, in part, in development.

Technology is ever evolving in optics too and this week we heard about some interesting developments.

Researchers at Newcastle University have successfully used 3D printing to produce an artificial cornea. The development, they report, has the potential to address the international shortage of donor corneas.

The printing process took just 10 minutes to complete and was made possible through the development of a bio-ink that has a unique combination of alginate stem cells and collagen, explained researchers.

From corneas to contact lenses, after a decade in development, Transitions Optical and Johnson & Johnson Vision has successfully been able to produce an Acuvue lens that utilises Transitions’ photochromic technology.

Having gained approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, the companies estimate that the Acuvue Oasys contact lens will be made available commercially in 2019.

So, as the things that were once only imagined become reality, what do you think will be the next ‘big’ developments in optics? Share your views on the AOP’s community forums. 

Image credit: Flickr/Pineapples101