Google's latest patent application may allow for cameras that are far harder to spot than those on a Google Glass.
The Google Glass may only just be making its way to the public, but it's a technology many have followed closely for some time. As high-tech eyewear that amounts to a wearable computer, the Glass holds several intriguing practical applications, even as it raises concerns among privacy advocates. Perhaps it's not entirely surprising then that Google is already looking ahead to future Glass versions, specifically ones that remove the "glass" altogether. According to a report from Patent Bolt, Google has submitted patent applications for enhancements to its smart contact lenses, adding miniature cameras that interact with wireless devices.
The patent application describes a method of attaching thin cameras to contact lenses in such a way that doesn't substantially increase their thickness. When connected to a control circuit, the lens would have the ability to extend the user's peripheral vision, flag nearby items, and even zoom in on objects like a set of binoculars. The technology could even lend assistance to the blind and visually impaired by commanding remote devices like smartphones, audibly warning them of any hazards or obstacles they approach.
Positive applications aside, contact lens cameras would inevitably create privacy concerns, especially since they're harder to spot than a pair of glasses. Perhaps even more concerning is that the lenses would have the ability to recognize faces, a feature Google previously banned for the Glass. While the ability to recognize facial patterns isn't the same as identifying who the faces belong to, mentioning it right in the patent application is a little concerning, and its not like hackers couldn't work around protective measures anyway.
Of course, since this is just a patent application, Google doesn't necessarily have plans to develop a contact lens camera just yet. Still, if the Google Glass is the rousing success some think it will be, I expect these lenses or something like them would quickly follow.