No one knows exactly what devices Apple is working on for the future, but one way to tell of a technology company’s direction is their treasure trove of patents. Apple has plenty, but seems to be working on an electric car.
Google has plenty of patents, too, but can’t manage to get a disruptive new product to market. Even Android is just a copied version of Apple’s original iPhone. What about Google Glass? Samsung just applied for a patent that would put a less creepy Google Glass-like device on your person. Think Google Glass Mini, but made by Samsung.
Blink, And Ye Shall See
Sorry to say, I’m one of the many tens of millions of Americans with poor eyesight, but made better thanks to glasses and contacts. Google Glass was the creepy Borg-like device that was obviously spying on you even if it wasn’t spying on you. Samsung may be on to something with technology that clearly isn’t here yet but it might be.
Think Google Glass meets contact lenses.
From what I can read of the reports and the patent application and images, there’s not much to the device designs. Yet. The lens would be equipped with a display, a camera, an antenna (ostensibly for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or something better), and sensors to detect your blinking.
How else would you control a camera and screen embedded into your eye? Blink three times in rapid succession to start video recording. Morse Code might make a comeback in the 21st century. One short blink, one long blink, two more short blinks, and an augmented reality menu comes down over the tiny screen in the contact lens.
Electronics has come a long, long way since the Mac debuted in 1984 and smartphones have evolved quickly and steadily since the iPhone was introduced in 2007. Faster, thinner, lighter, more powerful, but it’s Apple Watch which tells us the direction that such devices are going.
Apple’s Watch showed up first as an accessory to iPhone, but surely within the next few versions Watch will become totally standalone and will connect to the iPhone, but not be tethered to the iPhone. There is a difference.
It’s not a stretch of the imagination to see similar evolutionary advances take place starting with Google Glass. Future versions will look exactly like regular eyewear, not Borg-like. Likewise, it’s not a stretch to see contact lenses debut with a series of built-in sensors to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. How many years after that will we have a similarly sized device with augmented reality, and blink controls capable of recording video and audio, displaying useful information, or simply monitoring our health.
What bothers me is twofold. First, progress in technology, while inexorable, can be glacially slow so it’s possible I’ll be on Medicare (if it’s still around by then) before the devices ship to consumers. Second, where is Apple on this? Clearly, this is a very cool idea but Apple hasn’t bothered to consider that far in advance and we have Samsung inventing the future.