Last month Google surprised the market with a new wearable Glass off-shoot project relating to future smart contact lenses. Our report that was titled "Google Takes their Glass Vision to Smart Contact Lenses," will now act as a sort of foundational report for this invention on an ongoing basis. Today's new patent revelations cover the integration of tiny cameras into their future smart contact lenses. The user will be able to control the camera through a sophisticated system using the owner's unique blinking patterns. The new camera system could have many benefits to users and our report covers Google's initial ideas. One particular idea that Google conveys in their new patent pending invention will really open your eyes to the potential power of this new wearable computing device. For many, it could be a real life saver.
Google Invents a Camera Component for their Future Smart Glass Active Contact Lenses
One of Google many patent applications regarding future smart contact lenses generally relates to systems and/or methods for capturing image data representing a scene in a gaze of a viewer via a thin image capture component integrated on or within a contact lens, processing the image data, and employing the processed image data to perform functions locally on the contact lens or remotely on one or more remote devices. The term "images capture component" simple means a camera.
For example, a thin (image capture) camera component can be embedded on or within a contact lens such that it does not substantially affect thickness of a conventional contact lens. Furthermore, the camera component can be aligned such that it tracks and generates image data of an image of a scene corresponding to the gaze of the wearer, without obstructing the wearer's view.
As the wearer's gaze shifts, the contact lens will follow the shift in gaze, thereby allowing for generating image data corresponding to an image of the scene in the shifted gaze.
Additionally, the image data can be processed to detect light, colors, pattern of colors, objects, faces, motion, or any other suitable information that can be derived from processing one or more images. It is to be appreciated that components on or within a contact lens can be of a shape, size, opacity, and/or positioned so as not to obstruct vision through an opening of a pupil of an eye when worn.
Google's Contact Lens Reference Patent
For those wanting to review and follow the series of Google's patents on future smart contact lens that are about to rolled out on our site, you should note that the basics or foundational information about Smart Contact Lenses has been somewhat established in our initial report titled "Google takes their Glass Vision to Smart Contact Lenses." We won't be repeating the basics of this invention over and over again in every chapter so that we can move forward more rapidly.
Camera Component for Google's Future Smart Contact Lenses
In Google's patent FIG. 2A noted below we're able to see a depiction of a contact lens that includes within its substrate a control circuit #290, an image capture (camera) component #210 and sensor #215. The system could in fact employ more than one camera.
Google notes that the control circuit is coupled wirelessly or via wire to the camera and sensor. It is to be further appreciated that different aspects of interaction between control circuit 290, and image capture component 210 and sensor 215 may be respectively coupled via wire or wirelessly. For example, communication interaction may be coupled wirelessly, while power supply interactions may be coupled via wire.
Google further notes that the sensor can be any suitable sensor for capturing energy wirelessly or mechanically. For example, the sensor can be a photodiode, a pressure sensor, a conductivity sensor, a temperature sensor, an electric field sensor, or a micromechanical switch.
In Google's patent FIG. 2B we're able to see a non-limiting example close-up view of the contact lens in relation to the eye. The contact lens when worn covers the iris #140 and the pupil #160 as any other contact lens would.
How the Blind will be Able to Take Advantage of Google's Next-Gen Contact Lenses
In Google's non-limiting example of patent FIG. 3B above, they point to a processing component #255 (noted in overview graphic below) that can receive raw image data from the built-in contact lens camera corresponding to scene of an intersection and a car in the gaze of the user's eye. For example, a blind person wearing Google's contact lens with a built-in camera may be walking on a sidewalk and approaching an intersection. The analysis component of the contact lens #265 (noted further below) can process the raw image data of the camera to determine processed image data indicating that the blind person is approaching intersection with a crosswalk and establish that there is a car approaching the intersection. .
Google further notes that the analysis component can process raw image data over several instances of time to determine processed image data indicating whether the car is in motion and approaching the crosswalk. Processing component can communicate the processed image data or a command to a remote device such as an Android smartphone which can provide an audible warning to the blind person related to the state of intersection.
For example, the smartphone will be able to provide a voice generated warning that the crosswalk isn't safe to cross.The system, as noted in Google's opening summary also points to the camera being able to detect "faces," which could be another advantage for the blind.
Yet the face recognition feature of the contact lenses could likewise be of assistance to many other professional applications. Think of it being used by law enforcement in checking out a suspect that they're questioning in a vehicle or on the street. The facial recognition system could quickly take a photo of the suspect and run it through a special database matching it to outstanding warrants or other red flags with the suspect being aware of it.
Quick Overview of the System
In a quick overview of the system, we're able to see in Google's patent FIG. 2E noted below that there's a control circuit (#290) that includes a processing component (#255) that generates image information corresponding to scenes in a gaze of a wearer of contact lens and communicates that to a remote device (#120) such as a smartphone using image capture component (camera # 210), and sensor (#215).
In addition, control circuit can include power a component (#275) that manages, receives, generates, stores, and/or distributes usable electrical power to the other components of the contact lens. The control circuit can also include one or more transceivers (#280) for transmitting or receiving signals to or from a remote device such as a smartphone.
The Bionic Man's Super Vision Warning System
Google notes an example for users with healthy vision. In this example, the processed image data can be presented on a display integrated into contact lens such as highlighting of the car in motion approaching the crosswalk and provide a warning light emitting diode (LED), a wider peripheral view of the scene in FIG. 3B, or any other suitable presentation of processed image data.
Binoculars could be a Thing of the Past
Of course this is just one example of how a built-in camera in a contact lens may work in the future. Imagine being able to use your smart contact lens camera to naturally zoom in on the stage at a concert without having to hold bulking binoculars. Well, Google's patent application claim #9 states that "The device of claim 1, wherein the at least one image capture component includes a thin variable lens for focusing." That would be a great selling point for these lenses.
Discussion of Health Risks Associated with these Advanced Contact Lenses
Being that this is a patent application, Google focuses on the ideas they have for future their smart contact lenses and skirts any possible health issues that may arise from wearing devices that are constantly sending and receiving wireless communications. They don't explain what materials the camera and other components will be made of to determine whether there's a risk for possible allergic reactions or if there are risks to the eye being scratched by the various components outlined in this invention.
Yet, to Google's credit, we see in other recent patent applications published by the US Patent Office that they have gone out of their way to demonstrate that their R&D teams have been exploring many ways to ensure that their product will be safe. Of course until it passes through the hoops of varying Governmental bodies it won't be as safe as it should be, but in the short term, Google is demonstrating that they've thought this project through from many angles including consumer safety that we'll be covering in upcoming reports throughout the coming week.
Google originally filed their patent application back in Q4 2012. The US Patent Office published this patent application earlier this month. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
A Note for Tech Sites covering our Report: We ask tech sites covering our report to kindly limit the use of our graphics to one image. Thanking you in advance for your cooperation.
And there's more
Also see our follow-up report titled "An Avalanche of new Google Contact Lens Patents Come to Light." One of Google's latest contact lens related patents covers "Facilitation of Tear Sample Collection and Testing using a Contact Lens." Google first discussed this angle of their project back in January of this year.
The Tears related patent that we pointed to above may have a profound impact on those that are diabetic. Google states that "Over the years, many scientists have investigated various body fluids—such as tears—in the hopes of finding an easier way for people to track their glucose levels. But as you can imagine, tears are hard to collect and study. At Google[x], we wondered if miniaturized electronics—think: chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair—might be a way to crack the mystery of tear glucose and measure it with greater accuracy. "
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