Saturday, 22 March 2014

Google Patent Application Shows Multi-Sensor Contact Lenses For Wearable Device Input Via Blinks

Yesterday, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Google that reveals a new multi-sensor contact lens computer system that may work with many future devices including Google Glass and/or other future wearable devices, an Android smartphone, a television, a gaming system, navigation and/or car stereo and beyond. If you're a die-hard Google fan, then this is a must read; because if you blink, you just might miss something great.

According to a study that was published in February, 90% of vehicles by 2019 will Interface with wearable computers in one way or another. Beyond Google Glass, Google is working on an in-airgesturing system for vehicles and Google's latest invention will be able to work within such a system in connection with Glass.

Google is also working on their personal assistant Google-Now to work with Google TV. Integrating a blink-command system, as described in their latest patent about specialized contact lenses, would be able to issue commands such as change the channel or raise the audio for instance.

Working in connection with Google Glass, the new blinking system could be used to turn a page of a book or choose the next tune to play on your playlist. Whether this type of wearable computer has the power to excite us will come down to whether or not Google is able to deliver the right apps and features to give such a device life. If Google can find a killer app for this invention, then they could have a hit on their hands.

Yet something tells me that this is going to take many years before it works its way to market. Then again, if Google chooses to bundle their multi-senor contact lenses with Google Glass at some pointdown the road, then perhaps it could find its way to market on a faster track. In the end, only time will tell. For now, here's an overview of Google's latest patent application.

Google Invents Multi-Sensor Contact Lenses

Google's invention generally relates to systems and methods for employing multiple sensors on a contact lens for detecting blinks and contact lens orientation.

According to Google, a mechanism is provided for detecting blinking of an eye via multiple sensors on or within the contact lens (hereinafter referred to as multi-sensor contact lens). For example, a multi-sensor contact lens can be placed in one or both eyes of a user that can actively determine (or infer) blinking of the eye.

In a non-limiting example, multi-sensor contact lens monitors sensors on or within the multi-sensor contact lens at intervals that are less than an average or shortest length of time of an eye blink. It is to be appreciated that both eyes of a human user generally blink at the same time, and thus in various embodiments only one multi-sensor contact lens is needed to generate a command to a remote device.

The patent filing notes that components on or within a contact lens can be of a shape, size, opacity, and/or positioned so as not to obstruct vision through an opening of a pupil of an eye when worn. Google's patent FIG. 1A noted below depicts a system #100 for detecting (or inferring) eye blinking or contact lens orientation using a multi-sensor contact lens.

2A. Google Invents Smart Contact Lenses using a Sensing System

Control features of multi-sensor contact lens #110 can include issuing commands, adjusting content presentation, activating or deactivating options or components, or any other suitable functions.

The multi-sensor contact lens and remote device #120 can communicate via a wireless network. The remote device #120 as noted in patent FIG. 1 can include a wearable device or a non-wearable device as detailed below.

Applicable Wearable Devices

Wearable devices can include, for example, heads-up display glasses, a monocle, eyeglasses, sunglasses, a headset, a visor, a cap, a helmet, a mask, a headband, clothing, or any other suitable device that can be worn by a human or non-human user and can communicate with multi-sensor contact lens remotely.

Applicable Non-Wearable Devices

Non-wearable devices can include, for example, a mobile device, a mobile phone, a camera, a camcorder, a video camera, personal data assistant, laptop computer, tablet computer, desktop computer, server system, cable set top box, satellite set top box, cable modem, television set, monitor, media extender device, Blu-ray device, DVD (digital versatile disc or digital video disc) device, compact disc device, video game system, portable video game console, audio/video receiver, radio device, portable music player, navigation system, car stereo, or any suitable device that can communicate with multi-sensor contact lens remotely.

Moreover, the remote device and multi-sensor contact lens can include a display and/or user interface (e.g., a web browser or application), that can generate, receive and/or present text and video locally or remotely.

In Google's patent FIG. 1B we're able to see a system depicted with multi-sensor contact lenses worn on the user's both eyes 130, covering irises 140 while eyelids 150 are open. The remote device (#120) is shown with one or more transceivers (not shown) arranged to communicate wirelessly with the multi-sensor contact lenses.

Google's patent FIG. 2A represents an example multi-sensor contact lens that includes, disposed on or within its substrate, a control circuit #220 and four sensors equally spaced around the periphery of multi-sensor contact lens. The control circuit and sensors are coupled wirelessly.

It is to be understood that there could be a wide range of sensor configurations containing different types of sensors as well as the number of sensors.

3A. Google Invention - Multi-Sensor Contact Lens

Multi-Sensor Types

While Google's patent FIG. 2 notes the use of a photodiode sensor, the fact is that the multi-sensor contact lens can use various kinds of sensors and/or integrate them in various combinations. According to the patent filing, some of the sensors contemplated for this invention include the following:

A Photodiode: it changes state based upon an amount of light received at the photodiode, such as difference in amount of light incident on the photodiode when an eyelid (#150) covers the photodiode versus not covering the photodiode.

A Pressure Sensor: itchanges state according to pressure change caused by an eyelid covering or uncovering the sensor.

A Conductivity Sensor: it changes state according to changes in conductivity from a tear film caused by an eyelid covering or uncovering the sensor.

A Temperature Sensor: it changes state according to a change in temperature as a tear film caused by an eyelid covering or uncovering sensor evaporates.

An Electric Field Sensor: It changes state according to changes in static charge or capacitance caused by an eyelid covering or uncovering sensor.

It is to be appreciated that the sensors can respectively be uniquely identifiable to the control circuit, for example, via an identifier signal or identifying information conveyed from the respective sensors to the control circuit.

Google's patent filing notes that their blink detection component can employ various algorithms and mathematical functions to determine eye blink information pertaining to blinking speeds, time and durations to determine involuntary eye blinks versus a voluntary eye blink issuing a command to the control circuit.

4. Google, patent fig. 5 algorithms

Google's patent FIG. 5 illustrates a diagram of a multi-sensor contact lens with two sensors showing variables for determining orientation when using a predetermined blink speed in accordance with an implementation of this invention

Google further notes that their blink detection component can identify a known pattern of blinking for one or both eyes that correlates to an associated command input, from a library of commands, of the multi-sensor contact lens or remote device. For example, a library of commands can include one or more commands with a respective pattern of eye blinking that corresponds to a respective command.

5. Flowchart of blinking system Google patent fig. 6

Google's patent FIG. 6 noted above illustrates an exemplary non-limiting flow diagram for detecting blinking of an eye or orientation of a contact lens in accordance with an implementation of this invention.

The Power Component

So how will you power a contact lens? Well, according to Google, Power component #275 (noted below in patent FIG. 2H) can include any suitable power source that can manage, receive, generate, store, and/or distribute necessary electrical power for the operation of various components of multi-sensor contact lens. For example, the power component can include but is not limited to a battery, a capacitor, a solar power source, radio frequency power source, electrochemical power source, temperature power source, or mechanically derived power source (e.g., MEMs system). In another example, power component 275 receives or generates power from one or more of the sensors 230.

Google further notes that the transceiver (noted as #280 below) can transmit and receive information to and from, or within multi-sensor contact lens. In some embodiments, the transceiver can include an RF antenna.

6a. Overview of system, incl power

Google finally states that the techniques described in their patent filing can be applied to any suitable device. It is to be understood, therefore, that handheld, portable and other computing devices and computing objects of all kinds are contemplated for use in connection with the various embodiments.

Although not required, embodiments can partly be implemented via an operating system, for use by a developer of services for a device or object, and/or included within application software that operates to perform one or more functional aspects of the various embodiments described in Google's patent filing.

Google filed their patent application back in Q3 2012 .Considering that this report covers a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.

A Note for Tech Sites covering our Report: We ask tech sites covering our report to kindly limit the use of our graphics to one image. Thanking you in advance for your cooperation. 

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