Question Your World: How Are Contact Lenses Changing?

Posted: April 14, 2016

Wearable technology is quite the hot topic for us these days. Basically everything we wear is considered a piece of technology and is prone to upgrades as science and innovation move ahead. This includes everything from shoes to contact lenses. Let's look at some interesting upgrades in the world of wearable technology by asking today's question - how are contact lenses changing?

Before we jump into the news regarding contact lenses, let's take a quick look back at our history with wearable technology. First of all, literally everything we wear is considered technology. From our earliest days, we've been using technology to cover us up and keep us warm. Since those early days we've used a lot of science, technology and innovation to create the world we live in today. Everything from shoes to wrist watches to jewelry has experienced impacts from the evolution of technology.

The exponential rate of technological growth has produced many awesome upgrades to what we put on. For example, buttons help keep us warm by fastening clothing tightly to us. Socks and shoes have come a long way since their debut. Today the shoe industry alone is worth nearly $48 billion, a far cry from its earliest days in prehistoric life. The same applies for more recent wearable inventions.

For example, glasses were first introduced around the year 1250 and have gone through some substantial changes in the past seven centuries. From a handheld single lens to glasses that sat only on the nose to modern spectacle designs and eventually to contact lenses, the journey of this sight-enhancing accessory is nowhere near complete. As science and technology move forward so do the designs for wearable technology.

Recently scientists were awarded a patent for a contact lens capable of projecting an image directly into your eyes! This breakthrough is possible thanks to the decades of work of men and women in the optics, nanotechnology, medical, and materials science fields. South Korea has approved this patent for some technologists to use at Samsung. The goal here is to take wearable technology to the next immersive and discrete new level. This lens would take images or display images with the blink of an eye, literally. As of now a smart phone is needed to be the intermediary just like with other wearable smart devices like watches and glasses.

This is not the first time a smart contact lens has made the news, though. Google owns a patent on some lenses that were designed to collect data on fluids in our eyes for medical purposes. By collecting glucose levels in tears, this smart lens is able to constantly monitor vital information for diabetic patients. Google's medical lens is just one of the many waves of technological advancement making themselves known in the field of wearable technology.

As of now all these patents are for research and testing. No company has made plans to begin the full scale production of a smart lens product. Don't be disappointed though; at one point reading glasses were only for the wealthy and clergy. Today it's pretty easy to find a pair of cheap reading glasses at a convenience store or gas station. So, who knows, perhaps in the not too distant future, we'll see the practical application of smart lenses that allows for an enhanced quality of vision, communications, and beyond. Though this is not ready for production yet, we all know that the marketplace is always ready for ideas that are so visionary.