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Towards Smart Contact Lenses

A smart contact lens would allow the display of artefacts, text and images, overlaying them on your view of sight when these are needed and be completely transparent when there is no need for them. The perfect augmented reality tool. Image credit: Mojo Vision

I have been seeing news and hearing talks on smart contact lenses for at least ten years (more if it was just speculation). The hurdles to be overcome are just staggering and these have delayed the actual availability of products. Samsung was possibly one of the first “big” companies to look into that but abandoned the idea few years ago (although thy have filed for a patent in 2019 of a smart contact lens to record video clips controllable through eye lids blinking). Google patented in 2014 a smart contact lens but nothing came out of it (so far).

Something, however, is changing, there is even a marketing report with estimate on smart contact lenses market till 2023.

At CES 2020 Mojo Vision, look at the clip below, has showcased a prototype contact lenses (for the time being not to be worn on the eye since they are still awaiting for regulatory approval – contact lenses are subject to medical approval) having an embedded “screen” with a 14,000 ppi resolution. In the prototype the screen is monochromatic (green) but they are confident it will be possible to have it in color.  More tricky is the fact that the prototype needs an external computer and battery power. The lens, once ready for the market, will include a motion sensor, image sensor and radio capability, limited but sufficient processing capability and would be powered wirelessly.

These are really big hurdles to be overcome and Mojo Vision is not setting any delivery date. Powering and getting sure that the contact lenses could be worn for extended periods of time are possibly the biggest hurdles. If and once overcome the issue will become their affordability.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.