OK, this is bound to raise some red flags among privacy advocates, even more than Google Glass ever did. It is also going to make sci-fi aficionados drool and wish they would still be alive, not to mention capable of wearing this smart contact lens, when it actually becomes a product. Smart contact lenses are nothing new to our ears, but what Sony has tried to patent is incredible in both senses of the word: a contact lens that crams enough camera hardware to make it both useful and dangerous.
Before getting too excited or even too panicked, bear in mind that this is only a patent application. Sony might not even have the technology for it yet. But, at the very least, it is entertaining the possibility. Or is just jealously safeguarding the future against anyone who would actually have the ability to implement it.
Google is working on a smart contact lens that barely has any electronics, just enough to count glucose levels from tears and transmit that data to a paired device. In contrast, Sony’s patent calls for a contact lens that has a camera lens, image sensor, microprocessor, and even built-in data storage. Of course it also has wireless connectivity.
Lest you think this type of camera will be very basic, the patent also mentions image stabilization, aperture stops, zoom lens, and focus lens. How Sony plans on incorporating all those inside a ridiculously thin contact lens is probably something up to the imagination for now.
Part of Google Glass’ failure was attributed to issues with privacy, especially when it came to discretely recording people or events without consent or even knowledge. Sony’s contact lens patent would probably fare even worse. But perhaps by the time it will actually be technically possible, our society’s views might have already changed, for better or, more likely, for worse.