Tech giant Google has filed for a patent that indicates that it’s developing an electronic replacement for the cornea, the natural lens in the front of the eye that focuses light onto the retina.
The potential uses of such a device include not only restoring sight for those that have lost it to either disease or injury, but enhancing the sight of those with normal vision.
It appears that this concept goes above and beyond the capabilities of smart contact lenses , a similar tech that is still is its developmental stages. All that’s currently known at this time is what’s listed on the patent application paperwork.
It appears that the digital lens will be implanted through a laser-made incision in the surface of the eye. Ultrasonic waves will be used to dissolve the natural lens, allowing it to be vacuumed out to make room for the implant. The electronic lens would be suspended in a fluid that would then partially solidify into a silicone hydrogel, a material similar to modern soft contact lenses.
The replacement lens would then be able to adjust for common vision-related problems like near and far sightedness, and astigmatism. It would achieve this through the use of liquid crystals, micro mirrors, and tiny micro-fluidic pumps.
Additionally, the lenses could receive information wirelessly, allowing them to communicate with common tech devices like cell phones, tablets, and laptop computers. This may allow for notifications and alerts to be seen automatically, even when the device is out of view. It even opens the possibility of having the lens download updates, allowing it to adjust for changes in vision, or to allow new features and capabilities.
But like any electronic device, it’s going to need power in order to run. To solve this issue, Google plans to use a small antenna that can receive wireless power transmissions from nearby power sources. It’s possible that this could be some kind of small battery pack that is placed in a pocket, or worn as a cleverly designed piece of jewelry. Unfortunately, details on this aspect of the lens are not yet clear.