Competition among technology and new media companies is often characterized as a fight for eyeballs. It seems Google is taking the challenge rather literally.
According to a rather squirm-inducing report at Forbes, Google recently filed a patent for an electronic device that would be injected directly into the user’s eyeball. As described in the patent filing, the “intra-ocular device” includes an electronic lens that is injected within a fluid which solidifies after application.
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The electronic devices then attaches to the eye’s lens capsule, the membrane that keeps the eyeball under tension. It gets squirmier: The eyeball device apparently includes various sensors, a radio transceiver, a battery and a storage component, in addition to the lens itself.
That all adds up to what is essentially an eyeball computer. An external device is designed to interface with the lens apparatus through radio signals, with the external device doing the necessary computational duties. Oh, there’s also an “energy-harvesting antenna.”
So what does the eyeball computer actually do? According to the patent abstract, the device “can restore a degree of accommodation to the eye that is related to existing mechanisms for controlling such accommodation, i.e., forces exerted by the eye via the lens capsule.”
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Yeah, I can’t decode that either, but according to Forbes the device would essentially assist in the process of focusing light into the eye’s retina. The whole endeavor appears to be a way of correcting poor vision. The temptation is to joke that Google just invented the contact lens, but I suspect there’s more to it than that.
If you want to take a crack at decoding the patent filing yourself, go for it. After recent reports of biohacking adventures with eyeballs, I no longer have the stomach for this stuff. I like to keep my consumer technology on the outside of my corneas, but I’m old-fashioned that way.