Augmented Reality Contact Lenses: Yup, They’re (Almost) a Thing

augmented reality contact lenses

Technology has been improving in ways unheard of, even in the most outlandish of science-fiction movies. What we’re working on now and plan to do next is going to be just as incredible.

Two things that have received a lot of attention are virtual and augmented reality because we plan to use them as tools to go even further in our scientific exploits.

VR and AR, have already been used in almost every field. With these technologies, we can try on virtual clothing, explore in-progress buildings after completion, take video games to an entirely new depth and much more.

While we’ve already created headsets and glasses that utilize this technology, we’re still trying to go for the ultimate science-fiction creation: augmented reality contact lenses.

What Is AR?

VR is a pretty well-known concept, meaning you get to experience something that isn’t real and feel as if you were actually there.

AR brings the real and unreal together by superimposing information into the world we see. This information could be images, text or any other display seen through camera lenses, eyeglasses and maybe even contact lenses.

AR isn’t exactly a new concept. Fighter pilots have been using the technology in their aircraft since the 1990s. It’s only within the last decade or so that we’re finding ways to use it in a lot of different spaces.

This is because the growth of technology allows anyone to use AR equipment, as seen in the popular gaming phone app “Pokémon Go.” With AR now existing to the point that it’s almost old news, we’re looking for ways to make it more intuitive.

AR Contact Lenses

The idea of putting AR technology in contact lenses has been around for a long time. The idea became a reality in 2008 after AR contacts were successfully tested on rabbits with no adverse effects. The technology seemed to peak at this point, but the lenses are still being worked on.

A lot of technology has to be stored in a very tiny space to make these contact lenses work. Wireless communication, memory storage, antennas, imaging software and a power source all have to be included in the design somehow.

All that technology compacted together and allowing the user to see comfortably seems like a big challenge.

Patents and Possibilities

Several companies have unique patents on AR contacts, including Samsung, Google and Sony.

The Samsung design comes with the ability to record things, Sony’s can make inputs through deliberate blinks, and Google’s has a glucose-sensing device for medical possibilities. However, none of these concepts have managed to leap off the drawing board yet.

Despite the stalling, people haven’t stopped considering what we can do with AR technology in contact lenses. Advertising could be a lot more direct than ever before, we could keep track of biometrics for more than just glucose levels and interacting with almost any business can become an instant experience no matter where you are.

While we have a lot of ideas and reasons to strive for this kind of AR technology, there are a lot of hurdles we have to overcome.

Roadblocks for AR Contacts

There are many things these contacts must have to function, which we’ve already established. Because of that, many AR lenses were made from thick, rigid plastic that was uncomfortable and potentially dangerous to wear.

The fix for this issue has already been more or less implemented, replacing the hard plastic with a soft hydrogel that still gets successful results.

As with a lot of things, the simplest fix is going to be patience. As technology progress, we’ll have better means to implement AR in contact lenses in a useful manner.

Right now, the technology isn’t quite advanced enough for us to reach this milestone. However, the only way to get further ahead is to keep working on the problem at hand.

AR in the Future

The future is always uncertain, but even more so in this case. Despite the patents taken out by a few huge companies, AR in contact lenses have not taken off just yet.

When we do finally make the breakthrough, whether in a few years or a couple of decades, research will always be ongoing to improve the technology and start reaching for the next big thing.

As far as AR as a whole goes, we’re seeing a lot of progress. From games to advertising, it’s become a technology that’s as familiar to the modern individual as a cellphone. Though functional augmented reality contact lenses would be beneficial, we don’t need them to continue our research and advancements with AR tech in general.

Even so, when these contact lenses do finally become a reality, the entire world is going to change as we know it.

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