According to new reports, Samsung has patented smart contact lenses with a built-in camera in South Korea.
First spotted by Samsung-focused blog SamMobile, Samsung has been granted a patent for smart contacts that can project images directly into the wearer's eyes. This is done via a built-in camera, which can be controlled by blinking. The contacts do not work alone; they must be connected to an external device, such as a smartphone, for processing. The lenses contain a tiny display, a camera, an antenna, and several sensors to detect eye movement and blinking. According to the patent application, the smart lenses were created to overcome the image quality barrier that limits smart glasses. With the display directly on the user'a eye, the lenses are able to provide a more natural augmented reality experience. The patent was filed back in 2014, and it is unclear if Samsung plans to move forward with such a device at this time. The patent may be related to the Gear Blink trademark, which was filed in South Korea and in the U.S. in 2014.
Samsung's work with smart contact lenses is rivaled by Google's involvement with similar technology. However, Google's take on smart eyewear has a very different purpose. Two years ago, Google announced that it was working with Novartis on smart lenses for diabetics. These contacts would be able to monitor patients' glucose levels without any painful finger pricks, via their tears. At the time, Novartis said that it also saw potential in the smart lens as a new type of contact lens for those living with presbyopia, or the condition where people can no longer read without glasses. The smart lens could be used for vision correction and to restore the eye's natural autofocus. No product has come from this partnership to date.
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