Google has patented a smart contact lens that could see its Glass wearable computer fit inside a smart lens. The firm has already developed a contact lens for diabetics analyses their tears, warning them if their glucose levels are low. Now it has revealed plans for a lens with a camera built in – opening the possibility of its Glass system being shrunk down significantly, offering features such as ‘superzoom’ to wearers and even helping the blind see. According to Patent Bolt, the system could even be used to help the blind see. ‘For example, a blind person wearing Google’s contact lens with a built-in camera may be walking on a sidewalk and approaching an intersection,’ it says. ‘The analysis component of the contact lens can process the raw image data of the camera to determine processed image data indicating that the blind person is approaching intersection with a crosswalk and establish that there is a car approaching the intersection.’ The lens also has wireless capabilities allowing it to link to a smartphone, which can be used to process data and give the user audio commands. Google also says the system will be able to detect faces, potentially allowing the blind to recognise people. The firm has already developed a smart lens capable of measuring the glucose level of diabetics. ‘You’ve probably heard that diabetes is a huge and growing problem—affecting one in every 19 people on the planet,’ Google said in a blog post announcing the research.
‘But you may not be familiar with the daily struggle that many people with diabetes face as they try to keep their blood sugar levels under control. ‘Uncontrolled blood sugar puts people at risk for a range of dangerous complications, some short-term and others longer term, including damage to the eyes, kidneys and heart. ‘A friend of ours told us she worries about her mom, who once passed out from low blood sugar and drove her car off the road’ The project’s co-founders, Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, say they hope the technology could eventually become commonplace. ‘We’re now testing a smart contact lens that’s built to measure glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material,’ they said. ‘We’re testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second. ‘We’re also investigating the potential for this to serve as an early warning for the wearer, so we’re exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds. ‘It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype. ‘We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease.’ The firm is in discussions with the FDA, but says ‘there’s still a lot more work to do to turn this technology into a system that people can use. It hopes to work with other medical firms to develop the lenses and other smart health monitoring devices. MailOnline