Move over Google Glass,
Google contact lenses
are the hot new technology in town.
It is hard to believe it has been almost two years since
) co-founder Sergey Brin stunned the world with his "smart
glasses," later dubbed
While Google isn't the only company venturing into
with things like smart watches and glasses, Sergey Brin's Google
X division seems to be diving headfirst into the market.
Google contact lenses and Google Glass fall into a category of
technology called "augmented reality." Instead of learning about
the world on your smartphone or computer, you simply view the
world through your eyes and the device is meant to augment what
you're able to see.
The promise of augmented reality devices like Google contact
lenses is that users experience everything the internet can show
them about the environment they're in, without the drawback of
having to remove your gaze from it.
Rather than looking up a restaurant on your smartphone's Yelp
) app, a Google Glass user could someday gaze down the street and
literally see ratings and reviews for each restaurant around
Google Glass is just Step 1
Augmented reality is meant to make using
seamless. Google Glass is just the first step in Sergey
Brin's quest for this seamless experience with technology.
If you go to the Google Glass website you'll see it marketed
to golfers looking to enhance their game, chefs looking to keep
their hands free, athletes looking for real time performance
data, and even to smokejumpers fighting wildfires.
Some police departments are experimenting with Google Glass
and other wearable devices. And while some privacy advocates
worry, some civil rights groups hail this as a way to ensure fair
treatment for all citizens.
But Google Glass is not without its critics or drawbacks.
Just this week, a Google Glass user was able to beat a traffic
ticket issued by the California Highway Patrol for using
electronic equipment while driving. The patrolman pulled the
driver over after noticing that she was wearing her Google Glass.
The driver insisted the device was not on and, because the
patrolman was unable to prove otherwise, the case was
Also this week, federal agents questioned a moviegoer wearing
Google Glass at a showing of the new movie, "Jack Ryan: Shadow
Recruit." After theater employees noticed the man wearing a
"recording device," they notified federal agents who accused him
of recording the movie. While the man was released without
charges, it is no secret that Google Glass users stick out like a
I personally experienced this during a recent visit to San
Francisco. No matter where you were or how crowded the room,
Google Glass users were easy to spot. Considering how many
situations we encounter when recording or the use of electronics
is forbidden, this can lead to serious issues.
Don't get me started on Google Glass in locker rooms and
Step 2: Enter Google Contact Lenses
Google contact lenses are a smart contact lens meant to help
those suffering from diabetes.
With two tiny sensors that measure glucose levels from tear
fluid on the surface of the eyeball, these smart contact lenses
can take a reading every second and deliver it wirelessly and
securely to a handheld monitor.
If you have diabetes - or know someone who does - you know
that this kind of effortless and real time monitoring can make
everyday life significantly easier and can literally save
But the potential of Google contact lenses goes far beyond
this very specific application.
The same 'radio frequency identification device' - or RFID -
technology that powers the glucose-sensing contact could also
power a contact lens with the same capabilities as Google Glass
While this technology isn't currently available (at least
publicly), it doesn't require a huge leap of the imagination to
assume Google is working on it right now.
Step 3: After Google Contact Lenses: Implants
The next step in augmented reality and wearable technology
comes straight out of a science-fiction book. But, in all
seriousness, it probably isn't too far away.
Rumors of 'smart tattoos' and implantable chips have
circulated for years and it finally seems that a mainstream
company like Google is using the nanotechnology that would
precede such advances.
Imagine wearing Google contact lenses that displayed a screen
like a video game's heads-up-display and was powered by a chip
implanted near your brain. Why type when you can think your way
through a text message or e-mail?
Of course, we're nowhere near understanding the ethical or
social implications of such an advance. Fortunately, this
technology is still just a speck on the horizon of technological
Even the Google contact lenses, in their current form as a
diabetes-monitoring tool, are expected to be about five years
away from sale to the general public.
It's a brave new world of augmented reality devices. And
Google contact lenses are the next major stop along the way.
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