While not common, Google Glass is old news. Google is working on a new smart contact lens project.

Announced in January 2014, a contact lens that displays information is both a frightening and surprising thought. It’s like science fiction that conjures up images of the Terminator and the Bionic Woman.

This technology, perhaps the successor to Google Glass, is just around the corner.

How it works

This is not a new idea: Babak Parviz, the main driving force behind Google Glass, was working on a lens-based concept back in 2008, theorizing how optoelectronic components could help a central display made from hundreds of LEDs.

While he can also see the dot on less complex screens — he claims that even a single pixel could «help people with hearing impairments or be included as an indicator in computer games» — Parviz can see great potential in presenting images and information, especially when connected to the internet.

In its simplest form, the antenna collected RF emissions, converted them through integrated circuits only a few nanometers thick, and converted them into voltage to power LEDs via a chip.

The information—images, charts, or text—is then displayed on Fresnel lenses, a micro-lens used for diffraction and reflection to help focus the retina, integrated into an actual contact lens made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

Currently, one of the main problems is the size of the antenna: obviously its context limits its size and therefore limits its function. Taking into account both the physiognomy of the eye and the smallest qualities of the lens, the existing antenna designs have a radius of about 5 mm and a width of 0.5 mm. However, this can only collect a narrow amount of data — and its proximity to the transmitter also limits its capabilities.

What’s wrong with Google Glass (and similar products)?

So far, the world is not used to Google Glass. That’s probably because it’s too expensive to become as standard as, say, the $649 iPhone for $299. When we reviewed it, it was not a bad experience. It was cool and at least somewhat functional (although there was definitely a battery life issue). But honestly, it wasn’t worth it. More.

There have been very mixed responses on the Internet — including readers — but there will always be cynics. This hasn’t stopped Google from plowing and building the apps they support will be 100% ad-free.

Perhaps the main argument against Google Glass is this: what’s the point?!

This may sound unfair; it has its uses beyond just looking a little edgy and futuristic. Not all glass owners will be involved in car accidents. And now you can (apparently at some opticians) buy prescription glasses with Google Glass as an extra and expensive add-on.

The contact lens project, however, has a big advantage…

Medical Applications


So-called «bionic» contact lenses are not just a means of entertainment. When Google first pitched this idea, it was said to help people with diabetes. Diabetes is incurable and Google describes it as a «part-time job».

People with type 1 diabetes should pinch themselves with their fingers to test their blood sugar levels. It can be painful and annoying: some feel like «human pin cushions,» some rebel against it, and others keep forgetting. This is especially a problem among teenagers.

This is why there is ongoing research into how glucose levels can be measured, with tear analysis being the most likely candidate at the moment.

Google is investigating how a small glucose monitor and a wireless chip can be suspended between two layers of PET. By integrating LEDs into this circuit, diabetics can see the imbalance on the central display and potentially receive an «early warning».

There may be other medical applications. Can, for example, smart contact lenses help people with color deficiency? Color blindness can be a hindrance in everyday life, especially if you are interested in art or electronics! Some countries also prevent individuals with color blindness from obtaining driver’s licenses, largely due to traffic light concerns.

There is no cure for color blindness. But there are filters, glasses and contact lenses to increase the brightness and contrast of colors. It is not difficult to imagine that such concepts can be applied with the help of «bionic» lenses.

However, these filters can often be disorienting for people with a lack of color, so development may not be beneficial. Color blindness often doesn’t bother those who «suffer» from it!

Will they really succeed in Google Glass?

Whether Google Glass will replace these new contact lenses depends on whether people will use the new technology. Google Glass has been hit by a high price, which means it hasn’t been accepted by the mainstream. It won’t last though. Over time, Google Glass could become as commonplace as tablets.

Despite this, they are contradictory. People feel like they are just a monitoring device. One writer in San Francisco was even attacked for simply showing someone how they work. At least the contact lenses are thinner and probably won’t make you attack That doesn’t mean the idea isn’t disturbing…

Contact lenses may be more beneficial, especially for diabetics. Of course it’s USP? Google clearly sought to emphasize medical benefits. On the other hand, many are squeamish and simply do not wear contact lenses.

Personally, I don’t see them taking over the world, but a certain section of society is likely to embrace this technology. Perhaps «bionic» contact lenses won’t do well with Google Glass (and similar products), but it’s likely that the two will go hand in hand.

Would you try LED contact lenses? Do you prefer Google Glass? Or do both ideas make your skin crawl? Let us know below!

Image Credits: Contact Lense Andy Simmons.

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