Google Looking Beyond Glass, Eyeing Contact Lenses
April 16, 2014

Google Looking Beyond Glass, Eyeing Contact Lenses

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

Just as many people are forgoing glasses and opting for contact lenses so too may tech giant Google -- at least in the prototype stage.

While Google has announced that it will open its Glass Explorer program – at least for a day – the search giant could be “looking” beyond the glasses and toward contact lenses.

This was first spotted by Patent Bolt, which reported, “One of Google many patent applications regarding future smart contact lenses generally relates to systems and/or methods for capturing image data representing a scene in a gaze of a viewer via a thin image capture component integrated on or within a contact lens, processing the image data, and employing the processed image data to perform functions locally on the contact lens or remotely on one or more remote devices. The term ‘images capture component’ simple means a camera.”

The Google patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) apparently takes the basic concepts of Glass but extends it a bit farther. These lenses could have embed tiny cameras that could be used for photographing what the wearer sees and for basic input for a contact-based assistive device for the visually impaired.

“The camera component can be aligned such that it tracks and generates image data of an image of a scene corresponding to the gaze of the wearer, without obstructing the wearer's view,” Patent Bolt reported. “Additionally, the image data can be processed to detect light, colors, pattern of colors, objects, faces, motion, or any other suitable information that can be derived from processing one or more images. It is to be appreciated that components on or within a contact lens can be of a shape, size, opacity, and/or positioned so as not to obstruct vision through an opening of a pupil of an eye when worn.”

This is, however, also different from a previously detailed plan that could allow contact lens to act as a blood glucose monitoring aid. In January, redOrbit reported that Google researchers Brian Otis and Babak Parvis were working to develop a contact lens that could one day be used to monitor blood sugar levels in diabetics. Monitoring this through contact lenses is an interesting twist given that in diabetics if blood sugar is uncontrolled it can lead not only to dangerous issues such as heart disease and stroke but also can cause kidney and even eye damage.

While Google certainly seems to have at least two contact lens projects in the works, it should be noted that neither will actually get as far as Google Glass, which is still in the prototype stage. Issues also remain, such as whether either type of lenses could be compatible with prescriptions and more importantly how those not accustomed to wearing contacts might ‘see’ this technology.

“As for those of you whose vision is already 20/20 or better, these high-tech contacts might help you live out your dreams of being a superhero by giving you superhuman eyesight,” 9to5google reported. “All hopes and dreams aside, this is only a patent application and not a product announcement. Google may never release this idea as a consumer product, however a patent application filing does suggest that the company has given it some thought.”