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Google Contact Lens Patent Points to More Wearables

In a not-too-distant version of a future invented by Google, it may be considered normal to see cars that pilot themselves while drivers wave their arms wildly for direction and blink madly at things no one else can see.

The US Patent and Trademark Office has published a pile of Google patent applications describing a contact lens with embedded microchips that operate a microcamera, chemical sensors that detect changes in the makeup of tears, interfaces that would allow the contacts to connect with Android devices or smart cars, and command protocol that would let users tell the contacts what to do using a pattern of blinks.

On March 21, the USPTO published Google's application for a system to get smart contact lenses to talk to offboard computer systems in much the same way as its Google Glass smart visor, according to the site PatentBolt, which highlighted the rush of connected lens-related applications from Google.

Google's contact lens patents hint at a healthcare product, but there's clearlymore to it than meets the eye.(Source: Google via PatentBolt.com)

Google's contact lens patents hint at a healthcare product, but there's clearly
more to it than meets the eye.
(Source: Google via PatentBolt.com)

Wearables are growing so quickly they have stopped being an alternative form factor, at least from the perspective of chip and systems manufacturers, among which wearables have become the hot market to pursue right now, according to an April 15 report from the Institute for Information Industry, a government-funded pro-industry organization responsible for promoting the development of Taiwan's high-tech industries.

The global market for wearables is still in its earliest stages, but it will still reach $6 billion this year and grow to as much as $20.6 billion by 2018. Wearables are a “new market extremely suitable for investment,” according to the report.

IDC is similarly optimistic, predicting 19 million wearable devices will ship this year — three times as many as in 2013. IDC predicted wearable sales would grow 78.4% by 2018 to a total of 112 million units.

Most of those wearables will be fitness trackers, watches, or even smart wigs, but some companies are pushing the limits with form factors far less traditional than simply shrinking a tablet down to fit on a wrist. Google is going smaller — a lot smaller, with a contact lens smart enough to take pictures, connect with smartphones, monitor blood glucose, and act as guidance for the blind.

Google initially described its smart contact lens primarily as a therapeutic tool for diabetics and others with chronic illnesses, when it announced the project in January.

This article was originally published on EBN's sister publication EE Times .

5 comments on “Google Contact Lens Patent Points to More Wearables

  1. prabhakar_deosthali
    April 17, 2014

    Any wearbale that is targeted at health monitoring is good for the society in my opinion. 

    But any medical device whether it is a monitoring device or a diagnostic device sgould have some kind of certification about its accuracy from the health authorities.

     

    The danger of wearing such devices is that people will start making their own diagnostics which may sometimes contradict with what the doctor or the results of the pathogy lab say and that may lead to conflcit situations.

  2. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    April 18, 2014

    @prabhakar, i think there is some danger of self diagnosis unless the relationship between doctor and patient changes. In the new world, there will have to be collaboration where the patient  is considered a good source of data for the doctor and the patient takes responsability for clearly articulating what's going on and reporting and going to the doctor,e tc.

  3. t.alex
    April 19, 2014

    Electronics and software seems to find more ways to integrate into humans. This remind of the latest movie Transcendence 🙂 

  4. Wale Bakare
    April 20, 2014

    >>So Google is going to become a medical device manufacturer<<

    That's one area of application difficult to get on well with. Has Google really done much in medical space unlike other areas? I think regulation and policy to ensure standardization are an important factors in medical devices, and are highly necessary primarily because of counterfiet components/parts.

  5. ahdand
    April 20, 2014

    Good question indeed mate. I think in most cases people are more scared to live and enjoy their lives due to many reasons.  

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