Pretty much everything is going high-tech these days, but what kind of technology utilizes corrective lenses? In 2013, Google released their long anticipated prototype Glass to a few key people for testing and to the public the following year. It was an experiment that didn’t last long, though, possibly because it didn’t go quite far enough. In January of 2015, the company announced they would stop producing the prototype glasses, but continue to push the technology forward.
The goal of Project Glass was to create an optical head-mounted display using eyeglasses. This allowed wearers to utilize their glasses the same way they do a smartphone. The glasses had limited application, though. Users could look at their Gmail, Google+ and Maps apps while wearing the devices. While Google Glasses were a real eye opener; high-tech organizations like Google and DARPA are now setting their sights on people who order contact lenses.
Picture Perfect Lenses
Google’s next challenge includes putting a camera in high-tech contact lenses. This isn’t their first venture in the world of contacts. Google created lenses that measure glucose levels for a diabetic. The lenses carry a microchip able to detect blood sugar level and alert wearers if it becomes dangerously high or low.
A second lens project emerged from Google in April of 2014. The company filed a patent for lenses that combine the best features of Google Glass and the glucose monitoring system. The smart contacts would have sensors that monitor the environment around the wearer and detect low light levels and movement. They would also contain a micro camera you control by blinking, so you can snap the perfect picture anytime.
Contacts for the Military
Google is not the only company looking to offer something high-tech to those who order contact lenses. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, is partnering up with Innovega to develop military-grade contacts for use on the battlefield. This new lens system would allow soldiers in the field to lose that oversized virtual reality helmets in favor of lightweight eyewear.
With the high-tech lenses, they would be able to focus on objects that are close to them and at a distance simultaneously. The ability to look at two things at one time without taking their eyes off what is directly in front of them offers soldiers a big advantage. The use of this technology is not limited to the military. Innovega states they will also create a product for the general public for gaming and augmented reality devices.
French manufacturer Palanker are about to begin clinical tests on high-tech lenses that do what contacts are designed for—tocorrect vision. The company is developing contacts to aid those with an extreme impairment. Their product comes with a camera able to send images to the retina using hundreds of nerve stimulated photovoltaic cells. By creating electric impulses, these contacts allow the brain to see using the eyes natural elements the same way cochlear implants allow the deaf to hear.
The company claims their design already works on animals, but is still untested for humans. They plan to move to the next phase in 2016.
What is the future for contact lenses? High-performance imagery is the key to most wearable devices including contacts. If you order contact lenses in the future, you might be investing in nanotech devices that allow you to watch TV, play your favorite game, keep up on social media, get in some Facetime and still see better.
Technology is creating a new world of wearable gadgets and contact lenses are part of it. If you want to do more with your contacts than fix your astigmatism and change your eye color, keep a weathered eye on the horizon. High tech contact lenses are in production and coming to an optician near you.
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