You probably think cameras couldn’t get much more convenient than the one built into your smartphone, but Sony has just submitted a patent application for a camera small enough to fit within a contact lens worn directly on the human eyeball.
It’s actually not the first time we’ve seen a contact lens camera device. Google filed a similar patent in 2012, but Sony’s device adds new features and control methods.
Filed under the title “Contact Lens And Storage Medium”, it appears to be, despite its seemingly impossibly small dimensions, a fully-fledged imaging device, incorporating a lens, an imaging sensor, data storage and a wireless communication module. It even offers the possibility of zooming, autofocus and image stabilisation.
The device is operated by detecting deliberate blinking by the user, cleverly filtering out normal blinks, and can be configured to capture one image with each blink, or to continuously capture images to a buffer which is then recorded onto the storage medium when the eye is deliberately closed. It can also detect tilt information during capture and automatically level images for playback. The camera unit itself is placed towards the edge of the eye, away from the pupil, to avoid obscuring the display unit and the normal vision of the user.
Sony’s patent application mentions previous designs detailing the ability to play back images and information to the user via a display unit featuring an integrated lens array built into the contact lens. However, this new filing advances the concept by adding the ability to capture and store images within the lens itself. Power is provided wirelessly and, somewhat scarily if you ask me, through a built in antenna.