The all-seeing eye: Why Sony's new smart-lens is pretty cool but could be problematic

Here's why Sony's new smart-lens could make the world one 'Bigg' reality show
The all-seeing eye: Why Sony's new smart-lens is pretty cool but could be problematic
The all-seeing eye: Why Sony's new smart-lens is pretty cool but could be problematic
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Sony has come up with a cool new gizmo and it's a treat for all science fiction fans - contact lenses that act as little cameras and can be controlled with eye movement! However, such a gadget could easily be misused and raises serious questions about privacy and ethics.

Following in the footsteps of Google and Samsung, Sony filed a patent on the 7th of April, for a 'smart' contact lens. Sony's patent outlines a lens that can record images and videos and play them back right before your eyes. It is also programmed to zoom in and automatically focus to get the best shots. Other salient features of the lens are that it can distinguish between deliberate and involuntary blinking, and unlike its Google and Samsung counterparts, it has internal storage.

So far, Sony's design is closest to Samsung's, but its 'improvements' are facing skepticism. The futuristic product will have to prove its mettle in the following areas before it can be more than a theoretical fantasy.

1. One feature too many?

A lens hosting a camera, antenna and a handful of sensors all together in one little device is bound to be heavy for the eyes. Sony has to find a way to balance multi-functionality and user comfort for the lens to be a hit.

2. Wrong signal!

The lens is primarily controlled by blinking. How would the lens distinguish between a deliberate blink and say, a few seconds of eye-closed meditation.

As a back-up, the lens can be operated through the smartphone it is connected to. You can always tap the screen to give the right command in case the blinking has not worked.

What's the point of a camera and recording device in your eye that needs to be controlled with a phone, when the phone itself can perform those functions perfectly?

Image courtesy:  SONY/U.S. Patent and trademark office 

3. Ethical usage and privacy

The Sydney Morning Herald said in a report

“Sony's patent may describe the most aspirational design yet, including a limited amount of storage on the lens itself”…. “It's also unclear how Sony would mitigate the issue of lens wearers surreptitiously recording those around them for later scrutiny or dissemination, which was a major criticism of Google's Glass.”

The contact lenses are transparent, and cannot be noticed easily when worn. So a person can be recorded without consent or information that he/she is being taped.

4. The actual device

While these 'smart' lenses are still only at patent level, speculation is that R&D may have already started. So far, such a device has only existed in fiction. Making it a reality remains a daunting task.

Nevertheless, Sony's ambitious project has people plenty excited. After all, the future has never seemed so near!

Watch what the future may be like with the Sony's 'smart'-lenses: Black mirror 

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