Contact Lenses of the Future
Contact lenses may become the next big thing in the tech industry. These are approximate the most exciting proposals.
After the 19th century, doctors and glassblowers devised the first contact lenses in Germany. Those early versions were produced with glass and were capable of correcting the most common visual defects of the moment. However, their high weight made them a complicated and uncomfortable solution.
Almost fifty years later, that archaic idea underwent a significant evolution: the transition from glass to methacrylate and other “softer” materials. It made contact lenses a more solvent and suitable solution for everyday use, thus transforming all its consumers’ lives.
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Contact Lenses have Undergone Minimal Evolution since their Inception.
Luckily, companies like Google or Samsung are already working on their future. But, unfortunately, we have seen little progress since that last evolution. Yes, new materials have arrived, and models capable of altering the iris’ color subtly; But, on a conceptual and potential level, current contact lenses are very similar to what we could find a few decades ago.
Fortunately, the pace of the industry is about to take a 180-degree turn. These contact lenses are more ambitious and promise to measure blood glucose levels or make virtual reality more invisible than we have been able to imagine so far.
From the secret laboratory Google X ( a spin-off of the Internet giant Google), the first contact lenses capable of measuring glucose levels in humans emerged. These smart contact lenses use miniature sensors and antennas thinner than human hair to measure and share blood glucose levels, making them a surprisingly useful product for people with diabetes.
In parallel, a small startup known as Triggerfish is also working on smart contact lenses capable of fighting glaucoma, an eye disease that results in partial or total loss of vision over time. More specifically, these contact lenses’ mission is to measure variations in ocular pressure, alerting both its owner and the doctor in case of detecting them. His proposal has even stood approved by different regulatory bodies such as the FDA (USA).
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The Contact Lenses of the Future will allow Disease Prevention and more Complex Measurements of the Human Being
Sony, for its part, is also experimenting with contact lenses in its internal R&D labs. His proposal is more technological and less “medicinal”: take pictures with a simple wink of the eye. These photographic contact lenses would mount various sensors capable of transforming a conventional contact lens into a photographic camera.
Among the most notable features of Sony’s patent is zoom, focus in different areas, adjust the aperture, and even share the photos wirelessly with various devices (such as computers, smartphones, or even tablets).
Google has also applied for different patents beyond its proposal related to glucose measurements. One of the most recent suggests the inclusion of solar cells capable of obtaining energy from ambient light and, therefore, powering the future’s smart contact lenses’ circuits. It would allow the elimination of batteries (full of chemical components) and, above all, better space management.
Those same contact lenses would measure temperatures, blood alcohol levels, allergies, or even process real data such as prices or traffic signs, which would become a first step towards the augmented reality. They have insisted so much—some experts in the field.
Contact Lenses of the Future will make Augmented Reality the Standard
Samsung is already dedicating numerous efforts in that field. Seeing its commitment to virtual reality (through products such as Gear VR). The company also seems to be working on augmented reality, capable of altering everyday life elements. And making interaction with technology something much more invisible and natural than ever.
This proposal, popularly known as Gear Blink – from a patent requested by Samsung – would have a camera, a screen. And different sensors and antennas capable of measuring vital signs. These contact lenses would maintain a permanent connection with the smartphone, which would process the information collected by them.
Beyond the big companies, universities like Michigan are also entering this new trend. In his particular case, the University of Michigan has developed graining lenses capable of capturing the entire infrared spectrum. Which would allow him to enjoy night vision, among many other applications.
Although it may seem excessively futuristic, the reality is that these new trends are already approaching stores. It will be a matter of period before they become standardized as the trend to follow — much better than products like Google Glass.
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