Patent filing reveals Google may be developing a contact lens camera

A report on Google patents claims the search titan may be making a contact lens featuring a computerized camera along with a sensor and an integrated, thin silicon chip.

"One of Google's many patent applications regarding future smart contact lenses generally relates to systems and/or methods for capturing image data representing a scene in a gaze of a viewer via a thin image capture component integrated on or within a contact lens, processing the image data, and employing the processed image data to perform functions locally on the contact lens or remotely on one or more remote devices," states the patent report.

The camera component can track and generate image data of an image of a scene corresponding to the gaze of the wearer, without obstructing the wearer's view, notes the report. 

The lens would be able to take pictures of whatever the user is looking at via a special blink pattern and send the images to a wirelessly connected device. Potential uses include helping the blind navigate, and even recognizing friends without verbal contact as the photos could possibly be fed into a database for ID matching. It could also expand human peripheral vision capabilities, eliminate the need for binoculars if zoom capacity is created, as well as monitor a body's vital signs, much like mHealth wearable devices are doing today.

The news comes on the heels of Google's latest Glass push in which it provided U.S. residents the opportunity to buy the computerized eye wear in a one-day sale for $1,500. Such wearables are taking deep root among users with shipments expected to hit 90 million this year.  Google's Glass is being piloted in dozens of medical scenarios, including emergency rooms and is even getting endorsement from vision providers.

The patent report notes the Google contact lens computer could employ more than one camera and "communication interaction may be coupled wirelessly, while power supply interactions may be coupled via wire." Google currently has seven patents related to the contact lens research focus.

The contact lens patent is just one part of Google's mHealth strategy. Its Android Wear, which is set to kick off with smart watches, promises to go well beyond fitness and feature an expansive catalogue of apps. According to a blog post written by Sundar Pichai, senior vice president for Android, Chrome and apps from Google, the wearables will provide information pulled in from messaging apps and Google notification services, allow users to say "Ok Google" to pose questions on everything from checking calorie counts to calling a taxi, and give real-time speed, distance and time data on daily runs, bike treks or walks.

For more information:
- read the report

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