Project Glass Engineer Presentation Makes Google Contact Lenses Seem Likely

Chris CrumIT Management

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Remember Solve For X - that Google-hosted event earlier this year, where smart people gathered to discuss technology and solutions for real world problems?

One of the presentations was from Babak Parviz. That presentation was about building microystems on the eye. While fascinating in its own right, it is even more fascinating now that we've seen Google's promo for Project Glass - especially considering that Parviz is an engineer on the Project Glass team.

Here's Parviz's Solve For X presentation:

The premise: What if we packed contact lenses with tiny devices?

"So, our idea is that if you could make a contact lens that could have sensors and do an analysis on the surface of the eye, and report the results back wirelessly, we may be able to get a sense of what happens inside people's bodies without actually going inside people's bodies," says Parviz.

He's talking about the applications of such technology to health care (one area where others have expressed great intrigue with regards to Project Glass).

"One good thing about contact lenses is that we already know that more than 120 million people wear them, and many people have been wearing them for decades," he says. "So that's a good interface to the body. That's an acceptable interface to the body."

"This can, in principle, provide a radically new interface with the human body, really, probably for the first time, enabling continuous monitoring of the person's health and collecting data," he says.

But what if this went beyond just health care? How far could this go? Obviously Project Glass isn't about health care, based on the promo (though again, there are certainly possibilities for health care and many other applications, should developers gain access to the relevant APIs).

Parvis actually goes beyond health care in his talk. "We've been toying with the idea of, what happens if you put a display on your contact lens, so what if I could make a contact lens that could show me information, and it would talk to my cell phone, and the cell phone would talk to the tower and the cloud, eventually, and enable some at least, level of visual interaction for the person who's wearing this."

He shows a slide with the following bullet points:

  • Gaming
  • Virtual Reality
  • Augmented Reality
  • Interfacing with mobile
  • Supervision?
  • Night vision?
  • Multi-focal electronic contact lenses
  • ...

Contact lenses or no, you can think about the possibilities for Project Glass based on that list. The "..." may somehow be even the most fascinating part. Just consider the apps that have been created for smartphones.

Wired interviewed a couple of augmented reality experts, who seem to think that Google can't replicate the experience represented in the Project Glass promo video with the display shown in the video and photographs that have been made publicly available. Taking this into consideration, one may wonder if the contact lens approach would be the solution. Given that a Project Glass team member has experience in this area, and is responsible for the above presentation, it really doesn't seem far-fetched that Google could unveil such a thing somewhere down the line.

It seems futuristic and somewhat crazy, but consider that not only does Google already have driverless cars, but legislation is already trying to get them into society.

With regards to augmented reality, specifically, Parviz says in the presentation, "Whether this is possible to implement on a contact lens in a short time or not, my answer is not a short time. But the prospects are there. So we can actually enrich what people normally see with extra layers of data as they go about their daily lives."

"There's another aspect of this, if you could someday put a display in a contact lens," he notes. "And that is, fundamentally, we don't need lots of displays. So if I thnk about my daily routine, I wake up in the morning, I look at my watch, I look at my smartphone. These are different screens. I may watch some TV. I drive my car. It has a dashboard. I go to work. I use my laptop. There are lots of different screens during the day that I interact with, including billboards. But what all those things do is put something on my retina. So I don't really need all of those. I just need one display that's personal to me--maybe it's in the form of a contact lens--that shows me the relevant information."

Interesting point about the billboards, considering Google's primary way of generating revenue.

I highly recommend watching the video above, because he shows a lot of the related science that is already possible.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.