After watches, bracelets, headphones and glasses, the future essential connected product could well be contact lenses. According to a study by the firm Global Market Vision, the market for connected lenses will experience strong growth by 2029. Several large firms are working on the subject, including Samsung, Google and Apple. It remains to be seen who will arrive first.
A recent study brings to the fore one of the chestnut trees of new technologies: connected contact lenses. This study comes from the company Global Market Vision. She says that this type of product should experience strong expansion in the very near future. Indeed, the authors of the document rely on a commercial arrival of contact lenses before 2029. Or within the next eight years.
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The study is based on various ongoing projects within large technological and medical companies. The study obviously cites Samsung, Google and Apple, as well as Sony and Sensimed. The presence of Samsung, Google and Apple in this list is not a surprise. Indeed, they have all filed patents related to smart contact lenses during the last decade. However, their respective projects did not always target the same use.
Connected contact lenses: a 10-year-old project at Google
The first connected contact lenses were born almost ten years ago. Indeed, in 2014, Google Inc. (which later became Alphabet) announced that its subsidiary Google X (which has since become simply X) developed the first smart lenses whose purpose is to measure the level of sugar in tears in real time in order to help diabetics control their blood sugar without using an invasive method.
A few months after unveiling its project, Google signs an agreement with the Swiss group Novartis to produce these connected contact lenses. But the two partners never managed to develop a marketable product. Why ? Because the studies said that tears are not accurate enough to measure blood sugar and be used in the treatment of diabetes. Some experts have even called the project unfeasible, because tears, like sweat, are too susceptible to environmental elements, such as heat or humidity.
It will be necessary to wait until 2020 before hearing again about the project from Google and Novartis. Two years ago, the pharmaceutical group claimed to have made considerable progress in the development of these connected contact lenses and to be able to carry out tests within five years. Either before 2025. At the same time, Google X has filed a new patent for a connected accessory that looks a lot like its original project. This is promising.
Samsung, Sony and Apple are working on lenses for augmented reality
Let us also mention three other projects whose field of application is not medical, but informative. It is a question of displaying information in “augmented reality”, that is to say superimposed on real life. In 2016, Sony filed a patent on connected lenses capable, theoretically, of displaying such information. The same year, Samsung did the same. In 2021, a famous financial analyst claims that Apple is working on connected contact lenses to display augmented reality here too. Recall that this has long been one of Apple’s “hobby horses”. On the other hand, this analyst estimates that Apple would not be ready before 2030.