We’ve seen it in James Bond, X-Men and spy movies like Mission Impossible. The heroes get to use the most advanced and futuristic technology to record and steal ‘the baddie’s’ data. And we are fascinated, mainly because such brilliant concepts take us to a FantasyLand of the impossible. Well,  it’s mission impossible no more for us, mere mortals. We just might have a shot at it too – to take photographs with our eyes!

In this day of selfies and social media, photography has transitioned from hobby to habit. People take pictures of food, places and themselves almost every day and post them on social media. Our lives are so thoroughly photo-documented that phone and digital cameras have become as essential as the keys to our homes. Tech companies are outdoing each other with new innovations in camera features such that a new technology can be rendered obsolete in no time.

Well, Samsung is turning science fiction into reality with its smart contact lenses. It’s currently in the concept or development stage. But considering that Samsung has already applied for a patent for the technology in South Korea, there may be more to it than just talk.

The smart contact lenses were developed to address an issue of a similar earlier application; the smart glasses. They yielded limited quality images, thus prompting Samsung to develop a better app that would also be an alternative to other wearable gadgets in the market. The lense is equipped with a built-in camera, an antenna, sensors to detect movement and a display that projects images directly to your eyes. These images are captured by blinking your eyes and are then processed through your smart phone. Instagramming will never be the same again!

Patent diagram for Samsung's smart contact lenses.
Patent diagram for Samsung’s smart contact lenses.

There is a downside to it of course. The most obvious of which is the accidental input generated through blinking, which is a reflex action. That could lead to a sticky situation ranging from awkward to a lawsuit. Still, there is the option of controlling the interface through your smartphone. After all, the virtual world has created the concept of forgiveness with the ‘undo’ button.

Samsung is not the only one developing smart contact lenses. Google also owns two patents for the same idea but developed for medical use. Those patents basically enable electronic reading of tears to determine blood sugar levels. Not to be outdone, Sony is also developing its own smart contact lenses that lets you record and play back videos.

Sony claims it is making headway with their smart lenses because of its internal storage mechanism. Samsung uses external storage via your smartphone, while Sony’s is embedded in the lens. Since it can playback videos and images previously recorded, it’s going to get the art of nagging down to a fine science given that you can playback conversations to remind someone of what they said to win an argument!

If you’re worried about its potential misuse (and we can think of many possibilities!) Sony’s patent states that theirs smart lenses can “‘sense’ when you’re making a deliberate blink rather than a natural one, and the lense will then respond by turning the recording mode on or off.

Most of these patents were filed years ago, and although we have not seen any product out of it yet, it looks like Google, Samsung and Sony are now racing to perfect one for the market. Of course, companies apply for patents for a lot of projects, that may never be commercialised. But the possibility of the realization of these lenses remains an exciting prospect.

The smart contact lenses offer us the best of both worlds; to appreciate the beauty of the world with our eyes and electronically commit them to memory. If that happens, then we’ll really have prying eyes and selective memory down to a science.

You want to get a glimpse of the future? Read more about it here or watch this video from Sony…

Another extraordinary invention by Samsung that has reached commercialization is this tiny drive that puts 16 terabytes of information in the palm of your hand!

Do you find the pace of tech development exciting or frightening, beneficial or menacing? Let us know via the comments box below 🙂

 

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