22/11/2011 04:18 GMT | Updated 21/01/2012 05:12 GMT

Computerised Contact Lens Could Lead To Hands-Free Email, Movies And Gaming, Researchers Claim

If using a computer screen or holding a mobile phone just seems like too much effort, your lucky day may have arrived.

Researchers in the United States say they are close to developing a wearable computerised contact lens.

Theoretically the device could enable you to read emails, view images and watch films using a computer display just millimetres from your retina.

The team from Washington University, who are behind the device, say that early tests on rabbits show that the contact lens is feasible.

Unfortunately it is not without its flaws, as reported by the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering.

Currently the miniature lens has little room to display more than one LED. It also relies on a weak wireless power source, which sounds exciting but in reality means a battery has to be centimetres from the display at all times.

Professor Babak Praviz, a lead researcher on the project, said: "Our next goal is to incorporate some predetermined text in the contact lens."

Working with scientists at Aalto University in Finland the team have already worked out how to shorten the focal distance of the lens to allow users to read text at very short distances.

The circuits for the gadget are extremely thin - about one thousandth the width of a human hair.

There are competitors to the device, however. A company in Switzerland has already released a similar contact lens designed to monitor the eyes of glaucoma patients.

There are also a range of glasses, headsets and goggles already on the market designed to help users do everything from navigate ski slopes to watching Pirates of the Caribbean in 3D.

Futurologists envision practical applications for the new invention ranging from heads-up displays for drivers, integrated GPS systems to prevent you getting lost, tele-prompts to ensure you're never stuck for words and applications for computer games.

There are also obvious military and medical implications, including allowing sufferers of diabetes to monitor blood sugar levels.

Might we also suggest a Terminator-style scene app that would allow us to scan for enemies in a crowded room?

We don't expect to have to use it very often, but it might make socialising at office Christmas parties more exciting.

The other feature we'd request is a little more simple, however: an off button.