Samsung is Looking at Creating Augmented Reality Contact Lenses

Image Credit: David R. Tyner / Getty Images

Samsung is looking at working on augmented reality contact lenses, a parent received by the tech company suggests. 

The patent, originally filed in 2014, would see the development of a contact lens that would allow the viewer to see the world in AR, thanks to the combined use of a camera, movement sensors, a transmitter, and a display unit.

Augmented reality, frequently confused with virtual reality, allows the user to see a graphical overlay on top of their existing view. The tech has thus far most famously been the focal point of the much-maligned Google Glass, though Microsoft is also working on its implementation in the form of the HoloLens. However, Samsung is seemingly looking to make the technology much more practical, by doing away with the head-mounted displays and instead making AR-capable contact lenses.

In blueprints published by Softpedia, the contact lenses are shown to hide their wiring on the outside of the lenses, so as not to make them visible to the wearer. Applications for these lenses include taking photos and recording videos, with these images then being able to be sent back to the smartphone of the user. According to the patent, these “smart” lenses will be operated by blinking.

SmartContactLens

Though tech companies file patents all the time and it is therefore unknown whether Samsung will explore this idea, they are not the first company to think of it – back in September 2015, we reported upon how the Google-funded startup Magic Leap had filed their own patent for AR contact lenses. While this technology will undoubtedly not become a reality until far into the future (if ever), it’s clear that various companies see a great deal of potential here.

However, there are a number of risks with introducing AR contact lenses to the world, considering that privacy issues would undoubtedly be raised should they make their way to retail. With there being many reports of members of the general public feeling uncomfortable around Google Glass wearers given their ability to record and photograph on a whim, housing this technology inside a more discreet pair of contact lenses would certainly present its own set of issues.

But with that being said, these are problems for another time; right now we should focus on being excited by a possible future in which we’ve all grown so lazy that we take photographs by blinking.