Contact Lens of the Future


image credit: jim jackson via

Contact lenses are part of the daily lives of more than 125 million people worldwide. They’re these invisible silicone-hydrogel cups that enhance your vision without having to wear eyeglasses. Some prefer it over glasses as they offer a wider field of vision and can be used used for sports and other activities.

But did you know that contact lenses have already been invented in 1508? At least in the brilliant mind of Leonardo da Vinci. He didn’t really invent the contact lenses but he did illustrate the concept of it. The first contact lens was actually made in 1887. And here’s the catch, it was made of glass! Ouch! (It did cover the entire eye.)

It wasn’t until the 1930s when contact lenses were being made out of plastic. A couple of decades and innovations later, soft contact lenses made its way to the consumer market– some lasted longer that you could even wear them overnight.

But these days, it seems that improving one’s vision is not enough. Technology has an interesting proposal– to make smart digital versions of the contact lens. That’s right, it’s crazier than virtual reality but tech companies are taking this matter rather quite seriously. Here are some products that might just capture your fancy.

Google Glass

Google has been a major player in the tech industry for more than a decade. It’s been as iconic as the internet itself. Today, it’s parent company Alphabet, is spending billions of dollars in research and development to come up with really interesting tech gadgets and applications. They’ve funded self-driving cars, a virtual earth, and now digital eyeglasses.

Called Google Glass, this one was launched in 2013 and captured the interests (and cash) of some interested buyers. To the tune of $1,500, users are able to snap photos, record videos, answer calls, flash headlines, and show some random info like weather and temperature right on the glasses. It’s being able to see your apps right in front of you sans the smartphone.

By connecting it to a smartphone, commanding the device was done mostly through speaking, swiping, and tapping on the Google Glass arm. In terms of its looks though, it made the user look like a cyborg attending a cosplay event.

The idea seemed to catch on for a few months but as of now, Google Glass seemed to have folded, as seen on the their official website. Despite it’s short lifespan in the tech-verse, users still saw its potential.

image credit: Etan J. Tal via wikimedia commons

image credit: Etan J. Tal via wikimedia commons

iOptik Contacts

Washington-based company Innovega is gained some media attention in the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show as it launched a digital contact lens technology that’s a notch higher than Google Glass. How impressive was it? Imagine looking around you and you see floating app windows just like the ones you see in the movies of Iron Man. Sounds crazy? No. It might just be the future.

The iOptik contact lenses of Innovega allows users to experience a seamless interaction of what you see in your smartphone to what you see in your environment. The contact lens, with the aid of an iOptik eyewear, will superimpose the virtual and real images you see and combine it.

The technology hasn’t reached a super advanced phase like in the movies yet but it can display certain information like the weather. Or it can display directions while you drive and see how fast you’re going. The exciting thing about Innovega though is that it aims to let users to learn something about what they’re seeing. It’s like Wikipedia will suddenly pop out from nowhere as you look at a painting.

It’s been showing a lot of promise actually that the military has expressed interest in the products they are developing. Even though the contact lenses are still in exploratory phase, the future of this technology could be very exciting.

Samsung Gear Blink

Another emerging technology that uses contact lenses comes from Samsung. The tech industry giant recently patented a contact lens device that can facilitate the control of a smartphone by simply blinking. Though the patent only shows the design of the lens, rumor has it that it will be used in allowing users to take pictures with a blink. Or perhaps even answer a call with a blink.

Regardless of the application, Samsung might be hinting that swiping and tapping might be passe in the future. Because you can make things happen in a blink, literally.

Seems like with these examples, technology has indeed never failed to impress us. Just when we thought that swiping and tapping on tablets is the future, we start to realize that it will slowly be replaced by something new.
If only Leonardo Da Vinci knew how far his inception has become.