Samsung is claiming that virtual-reality headsets, such as the HTC Hive and the Oculus Rift, are just the first step to some potentially breathtaking leaps in technology, particularly so with augmented reality contact lenses.
Samsung has officially made the move to put a patent on a ‘smart’ contact lens in order to take that first step towards a more comfortable way to harness virtual reality. With the the virtual reality headsets, such as the Rift, hitting the market in 2016, virtual reality is on everyone’s mind. These headsets are an amazing technology allowing the web-verse and gaming to take on a whole new level of experience but there are drawbacks. Heavy, clunky headsets, external controllers, necessary inputs depending upon platform of choice … they are great but that’s not to say that the design is without flaws. Samsung seeks to change that and make virtual reality something a bit more comfortable and in a more natural setting (pause for irony).
Samsung first filed the patent with South Korea’s Intellectual Property Office in 2014. The smart lens in question is an upgrade of a pre-existing form of augmented reality that, back in 2014, was commonly known as products such as Google Glass.
With the patent filed, we know that the contact lens in question will be able to project images within the wearer’s eye and will include within the lens a camera, an antenna (which would be embedded in the lens), and motion sensors. It should be noted that according to the patent, the person who is utilizing these lenses would need a smartphone in order to pair up the two technologies.
This innovative step in technological progress is said to have a more natural mechanized control panel with basic commands by the wearer programming commands in tune with blinking. A neat idea, but there was nothing in the patent explaining how this will be achieved. The reliability of knowing what is a natural blink and a “command blink” is potentially a design flaw. Much like how voice commands don’t always work as they should, with having a tech in your direct field of vision the idea of this being the primary source of command seems a little odd.
Samsung has yet to be officially rewarded this patent but it is an interesting leap to see more companies move towards this level of technology. They aren’t the only ones; Google was awarded a patent for a solar-powered contact lens that was more for a biological data collection (such as the level of glucose found in the wearer’s tears) service than augmented reality.
This does raise an interesting question, though. With the public outcry of the war on privacy, how does the idea of a lens that has the ability to track movement, data, and basically everything to do with the wearer fit into that? The controversy surrounding the Kinect for the Xbox One was prominent when discovered that it is “always on”. Even with the simple act of unplugging it, there are still many that refuse to even buy the accessory for fear of privacy infringement. So that begs the question: this technology is designed to be aware of the wearer; to anticipate needs, to work on command, to access anything virtually accessible, is it too much? Is this another step away farther away from privacy? What do you geeks think?