IRVINE, Calif., July 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- From measuring glaucoma to augmenting reality, advances in technology have enabled smart contact lenses to steadily gain traction in the past year. Although still in the early stages of development, the introduction of such novelties will inevitably be life-changing.
At the Front of the Pack of Pioneers
Last year, Google's mass restructuring led to the creation of Alphabet, a parent company to look over Google and its various subsidiaries. One of which being Verily, an independent biotechnology development firm headed by Andrew Jason Conrad. With 150 patents granted, the company has been working on getting several types of smart contacts into the commercial market for several years.
Conrad recently invented an implantable lens to replace the eyeball's natural lens, in an attempt to correct vision. After removing one's natural lens, fluid is injected into the eye, which then solidifies when fused to the eye's lens capsule. The fabricated lens—comprised of storage, battery, sensors, and a radio—then focuses light onto the retina resulting in improved vision.
In 2014, Google announced their interpretation of smart contact lenses—slated to go into clinical trials this year—that will help those with diabetes track their blood glucose levels. An adequate way to measure one's glucose levels, without taking a blood sample, would be using tears, however this wasn't possible until recently. Verily imagines a world where those with diabetes don't have to prick their fingers on a daily basis to maintain steady health. Instead, their innovative contact lenses, fitted with a sensor, are all that is necessary to monitor their health. But some are weary if they'll ever be successful - earlier this month; an anonymous former manager revealed that the project exists only in a Power Point presentation.
When working with vision manipulation, researchers are naturally inclined to find solutions that enhance eyesight. With so many people plagued with rudimentary eyesight, implementing smart contacts are the most utilitarian option in eradicating poor vision.
At the University of Wisconsin, researchers have created a smart lens modelled after the eye function of the elephant nose fish. The scientists estimate the technology to be at least five years away, but if completed, it can help nearly one billion people who are affected by farsightedness.
Capture Your Perspective
On the other end of the spectrum, researchers are devising ways to integrate the ubiquitous camera into the form of contact lenses. At the forefront of this are two prominent competitors, Sony and Samsung.
Although both companies created camera contact lenses with the ability to capture images based on a blink activation system, they differ in storage: as Sony's is saved onto the contact itself, images captured on the Samsung lenses are wirelessly saved to a smartphone. Additionally, the Samsung contacts have the ability to facilitate augmented reality by projecting video directly into a user's eyes.
Similarly, Magic Leap is a smart contacts solution for those interested in virtual reality. Recently patented, the invention allows users to manipulate virtual objects in real world settings with only their eyes. To ensure clarity and clear images, there is also an autofocus mechanism that controls light engineered into the lens.
Medically Minded Contacts
The product most likely to be available in the next couple years is a type of lens for glaucoma monitoring from a startup called Medella. The smart contacts use sensors, tiny chips, and an antenna, allowing the user to monitor their vital signs on their smart-phone via Bluetooth.
Since wearable technology such as the Nike+, Fitbit, and Apple Watch, took off; Internet of Things technology has become part and parcel of all emergent technology. From TV's to medical devices, wireless capabilities for information sharing are a necessity in the modern world. Adapting connectivity to wearable technology like smart contacts is a step towards the future.
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