Google Glass was supposed to take the world by storm. It was supposed to be the Augmented Reality technology that redefines how humanity interacts with the real world, allowing for virtual content to be neatly embedded on real objects, thereby turning those real objects including air into some sort of screens. But Google Glass failed terribly. One reason Google Glass failed is privacy concerns (remember Google Glass wearers being kicked out of clubs?). The second is that the Glass did not offer anything that average people really want, let alone need, in their everyday lives. For those reasons technology companies including Samsung are thinking of smart contact lenses.
A contact lens is a thin lens placed directly on the surface of the eye for reasons ranging from aesthetics to medical prescriptions. According to Wikipedia, “compared with spectacles, contact lenses typically provide better peripheral vision, and do not collect moisture (from rain, snow, condensation etc.) or perspiration; this makes them ideal for sports and other outdoor activities”. When it comes to smart technologies, contact lenses are better than glasses in that they are “hidden”.
It is very easy to identify a person wearing a smart glass in public, and if you are one of the many who would rather die than have their photos taken by some wimp wearing a smart glass, you will surely and immediately distant yourself from the smart glass wearer. But this won’t work with a smart contact lense wearer. Smart contact lenses will be as transparent as their non-smart counterparts, and just as we find it hard to identify a contact lense wearer, will equally find it hard to identify wearers of smart contact lenses.
It is for this reason that in 2014 Samsung filed a patent with the South Korean patent office for a smart lense fitted with a camera that can be triggered to take photos by a blink of an eye, the details of the patent coming to the public domain just recently. According to the patent, Samsung smart contact lenses will also feature sensors that can control certain functions simply by blinking. To function, the Samsung smart contact lenses will require an accompanying smartphone, similar to how Samsung Galaxy Gear watches and other smart watches work. The smart contact lenses will be wirelessly connected to the smartphone.
Samsung smart contact lenses are not the first smart contact lenses concept in the industry. In April 2014, Mashable reported that Google was planning to bring smart contact lenses to diabetes sufferer as the company had secured two patents “for the cutting edge, biometric sensor technology”.
Known among scientists as “Ophthalmic Electrochemical Sensors,” these contact lenses will feature flexible electronics that include sensors and an antenna. The sensors are designed to read chemicals in the tear fluid of the wearer’s eye and alert her, possibly through a little embedded LED light, when her blood sugar falls to dangerous levels. ~ Lance Ulanoff wrote for Mashable.
The difference between Samsung’s smart contact lenses and Google’s smart contact lenses is that Samsung is thinking more in the line of Google Glass where wearers of Samsung’s smart contact lenses will be able to take pictures of the real world and possibly project images, text, and other virtual contents to the environment, whereas Google’s smart contact lenses are supposed to provide diabetic patients with information about their blood sugar levels.
If it becomes a reality, then Samsung’s smart contact lenses may be the future of smartphones. In the future of our grandchildren or their children, smartphones screens could be tiny lenses inserted on the surface of the eye able to project virtual content on air connected with ear-bud audio devices with microphones. In this future world, to send text messages will require people to talk through the ear-buds every time they intend to send a message then a voice to text conversion would transmit the voice as text to the recipient. Or the mind reading technologies will be so advanced that people will be able to send text messages simply by actively thinking out the messages they intend to send as text. Or the smart contact lenses will be able to project a keyboard on air and the user will simply press on the air keyboard in front of him to compose a message (ability to press a keyboard on air is already a reality – see Google Glass is so yesterday that we published in October 2013 before even Google Glass officially launched).
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