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TECH WATCH: Augmented Reality Headsets Out, Google Smart Contact Lenses In?

Are smart lenses the next evolutionary step in AR?

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Throughout 2017, we have already seen some pretty huge advancements in the world of augmented reality with the Microsoft Hololens and Mixed Reality Headsets leading the charge – but where does it go from here?

Well if the last 10 years have taught us anything, it’s that technology tends to decrease in size the more powerful it gets – iPhones have gotten thinner, laptops have gotten lighter, and now the race is on to develop a smart contact lens that puts the power of an AR headset directly into the human eye.

Though it may sound like something you would expect to see Q pulling out of his sleeve at the climax of one of James Bond’s mission briefings, major companies such as Google and Samsung have already released patents for their smartlens technologies and the world is waiting with bated breath to see what they can do.

For Google, their smartlens focuses specifically on healthcare, and their subsidiary, Verily Life Sciences (formerly Google Life Sciences) joined up with the Swiss pharmaceutical company, Novartis, to develop lenses that combat diabetes by checking the glucose levels present in tear fluid.

Moreover, the pair are also working on a project that will help combat presbyopia – a common disorder that affects nearly 1.7 billion people worldwide today and is expected to soar to 2.1 billion by 2020 – by autofocusing their vision whenever blurring occurs (no more reading glasses, yey!).

Though we can’t say for sure, this shift away from the AR market towards new horizons within the healthcare sector is potentially a result of Google Glass’s failure to compete with the monumental success Microsoft has had over the last few years with their headsets.

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For Samsung, however, their vision of the smartlens is very much invested in the idea of taking all of that AR headset innovation we been seeing over the last 12 months, shrinking it down to the size of a fingertip and sticking it directly into the eyes of their tech-hungry customers.

Having been granted a patent in their native South Korea, Samsung are currently developing a lens that will project virtual images into their user’s eyes that are then projected onto reality and are even reported to have in-built cameras that can be controlled by blinking.

All captured footage is then transmitted to the user’s smartphone so they can play back those treasured moments whenever they wish without having to rely on handheld cameras or faded memories alone.

As exciting (or terrifying) as that sounds, like Google, Samsung’s lenses are still very much in the development stages and, with no set release date, the idea that every conversation we have or movement we make might be recorded by strangers without our knowledge is not something we have to concern ourselves with just yet.

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Each week our John takes a look into the future and tells us what we can expect to see from the world of technology. You can see all Tech Watch articles here!

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Written by John Woods

John Woods

Hi, I'm John Woods - Staff Writer at CommsTrader. I enjoy travelling and of course, reviewing technology products!