Google And Samsung May Soon Usher In The Smart Contact Lens Market

Some people jokingly refer to today's generation of humans as cyborgs, mostly because of our reliance on electronic devices and near-constant use of smartphones. Of course, that's using the term loosely. To become real cyborgs, this tech would have to be ingested or embedded in the body, a process few people are likely to entertain. The closest we may get to this kind of technology are gadgets and sensors designed for use directly on the body, such as "smart" stickers, tattoos, or contact lenses. The latter concept isn't new, though the technology is hardly ready for mass adoption. Many tech companies have had their eyes on the technology, but it has so far remained invisible to the public. 

That may finally be changing, and if market analysts are to be believed, we may be on the cusp of a smart contact lenses revolution. Perhaps to no one's surprise, Google and Samsung will reportedly be at the forefront of this new industry, perhaps serving as the catalyst for an entirely new type of wearable. Both companies have been laying the groundwork for smart contact lenses for a few years at this point. Given its businesses in semiconductors, displays, and electronics, it seems natural that Samsung would take an interest in this segment, even if it doesn't roll out a product of its own. 

Likewise, Sony has a large stake in imaging, which is why Global Market Vision names it as one of the leading companies for that upcoming smart contact lens market, along with Sensimed AG and PEGL. Google, of course, even has a dedicated research organization for smart contacts, among other things. Now under the gigantic Alphabet, Inc., Verily Life Sciences has been digging into the different ways technology could improve the state of healthcare and indirectly improve people's lives. Its most notable research project was, of course, smart contact lenses for non-invasive blood sugar monitoring. Unfortunately, nothing marketable has come out of that, at least not yet.

Smart contact lens boom

According to the new Global Market Vision analysis report, a new smart contact lens market will rise in the next five or so years and will experience an explosion in growth with the aforementioned companies marching in full force. This is a rather optimistic outlook, given that there is very little of this technology available now in the way of public information or prototypes. For a new wearable device category to suddenly experience a surge before 2029 is almost inconceivable, but then again, that was the same boom that the nascent smartphone market experienced in its first few years.

That said, it's difficult to equate smart contact lenses to smartphones, and they might be closer to smartwatches in terms of promises and potential disappointments. Very few consumers actually understood what smartwatches would be useful for during their first two or so years of existence. It was only when Apple took the lead that others finally saw it not as a mini smartphone but as a small, personal diagnostic clinic. Smart contact lenses have the same potential, especially given how they are situated directly on the eye. That said, the inconveniences of wearing these devices combined with what'll likely be niche usage scenarios will probably discourage many people from adopting the technology — that is, unless these companies can figure out how to use such lenses for connecting us with the metaverse.