Stop Everything! The Future of Contact Lenses Is Nearly Here
For over a year, there's been quite a buzz around smart contact lenses. Companies like Samsung, Sony, and Google have all taken out patents and according to the patent applications, the future of contact lenses gives us a lot to look forward to. The features range from lifechanging, such as glucose monitoring for diabetics, to a bit more superfluous like scanning barcodes. Either way, with the amount of money being spent on R&D, it’s just a question of when smart contacts will begin rolling out to the public. So, we’re rounding up some of the most exciting developments in the world of smart contact lenses.
Patents for Smart Contacts
Sony applied for a patent on contact lenses that would start recording a video after a deliberate blink is detected. The lenses would be powered by sensors that convert power from your eye movement and storage would be kept directly on the lens. This makes us question how thin and light they could be in-addition to what kind of backlash there may be for being able to record video so subtly.
Samsung holds a patent in Korea for smart contacts that can play a video directly into your eye, allowing for the possibility of augmented reality. The Samsung lenses would sync with your devices and store data there, increasing the possibility of a thin, comfortable lens.
Smart Contact Lenses and Health Monitoring
Google holds a patent for solar-powered smart contact lenses. These future contact lenses would not only harvest light and turn it into power, but would also provide a variety of other health and technological benefits. For instance, they would monitor body temperature as well as glucose, allergen, and blood alcohol levels.
For the 422 million people worldwide who have diabetes, monitoring glucose automatically could save many lives and make diabetes much more manageable. The contact lens patent would also make shopping easier by scanning barcodes and price tags while syncing with other devices.
There are a variety of other labs around the world that are working on methods of health monitoring through the use of smart contact lenses and eye implants. There are benefits to both solutions; smart contacts can be replaced as they wear out, but surgical implants don’t rely on the patient maintaining the lens and putting it in every day. There are already two smart lenses that monitor glaucoma available in Europe.
Of course, there is more research and development needed to make smart contacts comfortable, semi-transparent, and resilient to constant eye movements. It’s also essential that the lenses allow the eye to stay moist and breathe. This is no small task, as in order to rest comfortably in the eye, a contact lens must measure 100-200 micrometers thick while housing sensors, power supply, and transmitters that would share data with other devices.
Although the challenges may still be great, there are many medical benefits like disease monitoring and it’s much less controversial than taking photos and video with the blink of an eye. We can expect to see smart contacts roll out over the next decade and we’re excited to see what advancements are made.
For now, if you’re in the market for regular contact lenses, Eyeconic offers free shipping and annual supply discounts up to $120.