Augmented Reality: Will 2016 be The Year of Smart Contact Lens?

The human eye has tremendous capabilities. For many years, researchers and engineers are looking past smart glasses and finding value in wearables much closer to the eyes. There are many R&D projects designed to focus on the eyeball through contact lenes. If a smart contact lens catch your attention, we would recommend you read our interview with Babak Parviz – one of the brilliant minds behind Google’ project glass here as well as our article about augmented reality here. Along with the announcement of smart contact lens project at Google, some revealed researches about healthcare with smart contact lens in 2016; which got WT thinking will 2016 be the year of smart contact lens?

News of Google’s plans for smart contact lens leaked at the start of 2014. SInce then, Google and Partner Novartis announced a deal that would give the license for the tech to the latter. In the patent application (officially published on June 25th 2015) Google described packaging for smart contact lens that rests on an annular ring at the top of a tiny pedestal. According to the patent application, the smart lens starts with glucose level detecting from tears throughout a sensor apparatus configured. It then sends it to another device such as smartphone. “This is a key step for us to go beyond the confines of traditional disease management, starting with the eye” said Joseph Jimenez, Novartis CEO. Google smart contact lens are expected to hit the market soon. Maybe in late 2016?

Another smart contact lens from Sweden which provides an automated recording of continuous ocular dimensional changes over 24 hours specifically for glaucoma diseases is SENSIMED Triggerfish. The product is better executed by the healthcare professional. The SENSIMED Triggerfish Sensor is a soft disposable silicone contact lens embedded a micro-sensor that can capture spontaneous circumferential changes at the corneoscleral area. The patient wears a portable recorder which stores the data transmitted through a thin flexible cable. At the end the data is transferred via Bluetooth from the recorder to the software. The SENSIMED Triggerfish is waiting for approval for sale in the U.S.A

The next technological improvement we may see in our future contact lenses is that a smart contact lens which can automatically filter out dangerous optical radiation – this is currently being researched by Australians. Based on the research “Mechanically Tunable Dielectric Resonator Metasurfaces at Frequencies” Published in the journal ACS Nano These researchers from RMIT University and University of Adelaide have developed a new stretchable nanodevice that can manipulate light, while remaining transparent, using tiny artificial crystals. This idea is for smart contact lens to be able to automatically filter out dangerous UV lights while transmitting data and gathering live information for users.

Another research published in the ACS Nano in 2015 reveals the advanced of our future smart contact lens. Dallas researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine are working on a very thin lens called the “Nanowafer”. It takes advantaged of how the eyes can be used to quickly and efficiently absorb medicines. Thus, the Nanowafer is aimed to deliver drugs into the eye over a predetermined period of time. The Nanowafer can revolutionise on how certain medication is delivered as it is accurate, waste-free and far less invasive than eye drops. The technology is heading for clinic trials in 2016.

Smart Contacts Lens are  paid much attention to at the moment. Lenses may one day be used to monitor cancers, as lacryglobin is elevated in human tears in patient with breast, colon, lung, prostate, and ovarian cancers.