Sony is Developing Contact Lenses That Can Take Pictures and Record Video With the Blink of an Eye

May 3, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

Contact lens
Photo credit: sittered/flickr (CC by SA 2.0)

They just filed a patent.

Google and Samsung have both already filed patents for smart contact lenses with built-in cameras, and now Sony has added itself to the race.

With sophisticated technology, the smart lenses will be able to distinguish between a natural blink of an eye and a deliberate one, and once the lenses are cued off by a deliberate blink, they’ll know to turn a picture-taking or video-recording feature on or off.

Yes, you’ll be able to record videos and take photos with a teeny camera on top of your eye, with a simple blink.

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"It is known that a time period of usual blinking is usually 0.2 seconds to 0.4 seconds, and therefore it can be said that, in the case where the time period of blinking exceeds 0.5 seconds, the blinking is conscious blinking," the patent application states.

While you may have heard about Samsung’s announcement just a few weeks ago, the company didn’t necessarily beat Sony to the punch because the contact lenses have a key difference: internal storage.

With Samsung’s hypothetical smart lenses, the video footage is sent directly to an external storage device, like a smartphone or a computer. However, Sony’s patent reveals that their technology will allow you to store photos and videos right there in the contact lenses, allowing for fast and easy access to your media.

How exactly do these lenses work? According to Tech Story, the lenses will be fitted with tiny sensors (piezoelectric sensors), which can measure changes in temperature, pressure, acceleration, or force by converting them to an electrical charge. These sensors would therefore be able to read the eye movements of the contact-wearer and turn the recording feature on.

To power the lenses, Sony chose to install an antenna capable of wirelessly receiving energy from an external device such as a smartphone or tablet.

The lenses also boast a “tilt sensor” that can adjust for the tilt of the wearer’s eye, and they may even include autofocus and image stabilization features to address the blur caused by the eyeball’s motion, Tech Times reports.

Interestingly, Tech Times’ reporter Rhodi Lee notes that the priority date — the date the first patent was filed on a novel technology — of Sony’s patent is May 2, 2013, which means that the company has “already been working on the technology for quite some time.”

For reference, Google first patented their smart contact lens back in July of 2012, while Samsung didn’t file a patent until September 2014.

So while these futuristic wearable technologies may seem like they’ve been pulled straight out of a sci-fi novel, they may be closer to becoming a reality than we think.

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