If you’re a heavy drinker or suffer from allergies, Google’s smart contact lenses could be perfect for you.
Of all the wearable devices that have hit the market — Fitbits, Apple watches, even Bluetooth rings — smart contact lenses have to be the most futuristic wearable technology yet. Google, one of the world’s leading pioneers in all things technology and engineering, just filed a patent for new, smart, solar-powered contact lenses, and the potential features are mind-blowing.
1. Scan barcodes, price tags, and coupons.
For all the shopaholics out there, your shopping experience might get quicker and more efficient thanks to Google’s smart lenses. The patent discusses circumstances in which other devices would be able to “receive information detailing electronic coupons, pricing, warranty information or the like.” So basically, cashiers could wear the contacts and have the ability to scan and process coupons and price tags rapidly. Who knows? Maybe the contact lenses will even replace store scanners altogether.
2. Authenticate identities.
This feature was only mentioned briefly in the patent, but the sentence is enough to get your imagination running wild: “Retinal analysis of a user can be performed and an optical signal transmitted in response to an authentication request.” Forget key cards and fingerprint scans to gain entry into restricted areas. Google’s contact lenses could spread the sci-fi concept around the globe to tighten security — and perhaps even link software for retinal scans to our smartphones for banking, email, and any top secret apps.
3. Help manage allergies.
The only downfall of the season where the world blossoms back to life is that spring also brings annoying hay fever allergies. The patent reads that the lenses, "can sense any number of biological, chemical and/or microbiological features in an environment including, but not limited to, levels of hazardous materials, levels of allergens, the presence of various organisms or species or the like." So, they could warn you about a number of allergens floating around the air, like pollen, pet dander, and dust mice.
4. Monitor your blood-alcohol content and body temperature.
The lenses will reportedly offer a range of features to gather and send information about a user’s biological data to other devices, including internal body temperature and blood-alcohol content (BAC). This feature could help keep track of bodily health and remind binge-drinkers when it’s time to give the tequila shots a rest.
5. Track glucose levels.
Google had previously announced in 2014 that it was working on a project to create a smart contact lens that would measure the user’s glucose levels through their tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniscule glucose sensor. The tech giant’s new patent makes it sound like this feature will be taken to the next level, outputting the information to doctors, parents, or caretakers to warn when a diabetic’s glucose levels are too high or low.
6. Generate solar and ambient-light sourced power.
Since contact lenses don’t quite seem like something that would be easy to plug into a wall charger, Google has fashioned them with “photodetectors” which harvest light from the sun or ambient light sources to power the lenses. The photodetectors could also be used to receive data, enabling the device to communicate with computers and mobile phones.
While Google hasn’t released any information regarding a timeline on when the lenses will be developed or released, the company’s innovative ideas for the future of technology are as refreshing as ever. Since Google Glass, Google’s first wearable eye technology, didn’t go over as well as they planned, perhaps the tech mastermind will make up for it with these crazy potential features for smart contact lens technology.