California Intellectual Property Blog


#Sony Files #Patent for Smart Contact Lens with Camera Capabilities

Contact lens San Diego – Smart contact lenses serving as cameras triggered by blinking may soon become a reality. Sony recently became the third company, following Google and Samsung, to file a patent for a high-tech contact lens containing a camera and sensors.

Sony filed for the patent back in May 2013, but the information on the patent only recently surfaced. In the patent application, Sony states the goal of the invention would be “to provide a contact lens and storage medium capable of controlling an image pickup unit provided in the contact lens.”

The basic function of the lens is to capture photos and videos either right before or right after the user creates a special blink. To activate an on/off switch, the user would close his or her eyes and press on the end of the contact. Sony’s patent application joins two other applications for similar technology. Google’s patent application for smart contact lens technology was approved in 2014. The Google lens involves control circuits and sensors that work with the eye, automatically capturing a new view whenever the user changes his or her viewing focus. The primary use of the contact lens is to measure glucose levels in the tears of diabetics, but it also holds the capability to measure pollen in the air, monitor blood alcohol content levels, and more.

Samsung filed a patent application for a smart contact lens in 2014 in South Korea. The lens is equipped with a camera and motion detection sensors, but also includes the potential of displaying augmented reality experiences on the lens itself (and in turn, the viewer’s field of vision). Both the Samsung and Sony applications include an internal screen for viewing those images after they are captured.

What sets Sony’s application apart from Google and Samsung’s is the increased number of camera features. Sony’s lens would allow for zoom, focus, and change of aperture, as well as the option of storing images directly in the lens (as opposed to requiring it to be sent to an external storage system). However, if the user wishes, he or she can still transmit the photos wireless to a smart phone or tablet.

One obvious concern over this technology is the question of privacy. It will be incredibly easy to snap a photo of someone without their knowledge or consent. Many establishments have banned Google Glass over similar privacy concerns, but banning smart contact lenses may prove difficult to enforce.


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