New Patent Filings Suggest Google May Have its Sights Set on Smart Contacts

Contact lens bended in right directionOrange County – Move over Google Glass! By the looks of recent patent filings, the tech powerhouse seems to be on to its next big thing – eyeing a new product that would enhance contact lenses with technology such as a camera and sensory input monitoring system.

According to the patent, filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO) in April, the lenses would be powered by a tiny computer chip that is able to sense light, colors, motion and even faces, without obstructing the vision of the wearer. Using algorithms that log the person’s eye activity over time, the device would be able to tell involuntary blinks from those intended to engage a function of the lenses.

The patent application details a variety of potential features of the contacts, with much of the description centered around a built-in camera, which would be controlled by the wearer’s eye movements. Using “image capture components,” the application describes how a person wearing the enabled contacts could simply look at something and snap a picture of it, which would then be accessible on a compatible device or smartphone for later editing and sharing.

The functions of the so called “smart contacts” could be far reaching as some have suggested that a product like this could provide help for persons with disabilities. Specifically, technology such as this might be used to help blind or visually impaired people by sending signals about what is around them. Smart lenses could notify a blind person approaching an intersection when it is safe to cross. Others have suggested a wide array of uses including facial recognition technology for use by law enforcement and a zoom feature to help those with normal vision to focus on far away objects.

Meanwhile, Google’s plans for its first optical-based device are well under way with initial sales of Google Glass selling out in all five available colors. With demand for the pricey product in full swing, Google even added a quick update to the device, which allows it to run on Android’s KitKat 4.4 operating system. As for what’s on the horizon for Google Glass, it is rumored that a more consumer friendly version will roll out sometime later this year.




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