Space & Innovation

Smart Contact Lenses To Record What You See

A new patent awarded to Sony details contact lenses with recording capabilities.

The race to develop smart contact lenses with all kinds of crazy capabilities is getting more focused. Sony became a serious contender by filing a patent for self-powered contacts that could record what the wearer sees.

Sounding like the kind of tech that Alfred would present to Bruce Wayne in a sparkling case, the patent awarded to Sony in April calls for contact lenses that contain an "image pickup unit" and storage for recording either still or moving images.

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Tech for recording and storing those images would be embedded right in the lens around the iris, CNET reported. A piezoelectric sensor would pick up tiny eye movements and convert that into energy that powers all the tech inside the lens. We've already seen these special materials power nanodevices, so this proposal makes sense.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and John Twohig, Flickr Creative Commons

The device would be controlled by consciously blinking in a certain way, prompting it to start or stop recording. Since the wearer blinks normally, effectively covering the lens for 0.2 to 0.4 seconds each time, the lens could automatically delete dark frames for better playback, Sony's patent explained.

An antenna in the lens allows for transmitting the captured images wirelessly, according to the patent. Those who need prescription lenses would wear a corrective lens in one eye and the recording lens in another. Sounds like another compelling point in favor of laser eye surgery.

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As CNET noted, this is all theoretical right now, though. Sony's patent doesn't guarantee a comfortable contact lens that actually records. Many steps would need to happen first.

However, the regular contact lenses for corrective vision have been improving rapidly over the past few years, my ophthalmologist told me recently. Real recording ones might just arrive in the deliberate blink of an eye.

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