NOTE: This article first appeared at In Cyber Defense.
By Wes O’Donnell
Managing Editor, In Cyber Defense
Researchers at the University of California San Diego have created a lens that uses the small electrical potential of the human eyeball, called the electro-oculographic signal, to control the polymer lens.
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The contact lens has the ability to expand when an electric current is applied and become more convex, allowing the lens to “zoom in.”
Applications are wide-ranging from use in robotics, visual prostheses for civilians and military applications.
As it stands today, the Biomimetic Soft Lens is not connected to any network. However, it doesn’t take a great leap of imagination, as the Internet of Things (IoT) matures, to imagine a future when such a lens is connected to the internet.
Does the Contact Lens Create a Hacking Potential?
In fact, the entire field of soft robotics and human-machine interfaces opens the door to serious cyber concerns.
Were such a device connected to a network, say, to assist with navigation for soldiers, could the lens be hacked and made to think that it has a much greater voltage applied than it really does? Such an action could potentially blind an entire platoon in the field.
Precautions are needed as more and more devices come “online” to make our lives easier. IoT security researchers state that because IoT is a nascent market, many product designers and manufacturers are more interested in getting their products to market quickly rather than taking the necessary steps to build in security from the start.
In addition, because the potential is for IoT devices to be quite small, many of them will be resource-constrained and lack the necessary computing power to ensure strong security.
Stakeholders in military devices hope that the Department of Defense will take cyber-strengthening measures to protect against device vulnerabilities, much the same way that certain electrical systems are hardened from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) created by a nuclear detonation.
But for civilian sectors, there is still no single agreed-upon framework for industry standards of IoT. This makes a large number of devices, including an increasing number of medical devices, vulnerable once they connect to a network.
As for the lens, the device is still in the lab. You can read more about the Biomimetic Soft Lens Controlled by Electrooculographic Signal in the Journal for Advanced Functional Materials.
And for all things cyber-related, keep it dialed in here at InCyberDefense.com.