Google announced in January that it was developing a smart contact lens that could continually monitor blood glucose levels of Type 2 diabetics. It has been announced that Google is also working to create a contact lens with an integrated camera that would help people with visual disabilities.
The lens is meant to work like this: a small camera will be embedded out of the way of the pupil so it will not obstruct vision. Blinking activates the sensor for the camera. An advantage to using this lens instead of something like Google Glass is that the camera is able to follow the eye’s precise movement. Even the smallest sideways glance will still allow the camera to face the point of interest. The data collected by the camera can be processed to recognize a variety of properties including faces, motion, color, light, and certain objects.
If someone with a visual impairment is wearing the lenses and is, say, about to step off the curb while there is traffic present. The lens, which can be linked to a smartphone, will give an auditory warning for the wearer to stop, and then let the user know when it is safe to cross. The facial recognition could help the wearer identify friends and family by connecting to a database. There is also the potential for law enforcement to use the technology to spot persons of interest or those with outstanding warrants.
Of course, the lens isn’t only for those who need help visually navigating their surroundings. It will also be able to take regular pictures hands free. The developers also hope to be able to zoom the camera in, reducing the need for binoculars. While this does seem pretty handy in some circumstances, it seems fairly creepy for others. Keep your blinds closed, guys.
At this stage, the lens is still theoretical, but a patent application was filed on the design back in 2012. There is no telling when or if this product will be available on the open market.