It seems that Glass, the head-mounted tiny computer and camera, is not enough for the folks over at Mountain View. The company’s ambitions when it comes to what we see and how we process the information seem to go beyond a smart glass. According to a new patent application by Google, with the USPTO, the company is working towards taking a basic concept of Google glass forward by embedding tiny cameras into contact lenses which will be able to record and capture what a user is looking at.
However, the big potential, as described in the patent applications, seems to be the ability of Google’s special contact lens to process the information and send it to a peripheral devices, which may give blind people a way to “see” the world around them. For example, by acting as the “eyes”, this contact lens may give turn-by-turn voice guidance to people who can’t see by relaying information to a smartphone or an earpiece.The patent application filed by Google says, “this disclosure 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.”
Tiny cameras that could be embedded in contact lenses for various uses, including photographing what a wearer sees, or providing the basic input for a contact-based assistive device for the visually impaired .
In notes that accompany drawings in the patent application, Google says that its contact lens will not obstruct the viewing field of the user. It also says that the camera in the contact lens will be able to follow the gaze of a viewer.
“As the wearer’s gaze shifts, the contact lens will follow the shift in gaze, thereby allowing for generating the image data corresponding to an image of the scene in the shifted gaze. Additionally, the image data can be processed to detect light, colours, pattern of colours, objects, faces, motion, or any other suitable information that can be derived from processing one or more images,” Google notes in the patent application.
The patent application was first spotted by Patent Bolt, a website that tracks newly-filed patent applications.
The applications credits Nathan Pletcher, Babak Amir Parviz and Olivia Hatalsky as inventors of the contact lens with the camera. The same team is also behind the Google contact lens that will reportedly have a sensor to monitor glucose level in the body. Details of this contact lens were revealed by Google in January this year.
Obviously, big tech companies patent stuff all the time, only a fraction of which ever makes it to shipping products. Plus, wearing contacts is something that anyone who doesn’t have to likely won’t warm up to easily. Still, as an assistive device, and an alternative to other, more obvious gadgets and intrusive tech like hearing aids or cochlear implants, this could be a tech that has legs in the near future.
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