Google foresight: Web giant patents plans to build electronic eye implants

© Darren Staples
Google's ‘intraocular device’ is the latest development in a tech race to literally get inside people’s heads.

The unnamed product is designed to improve ailing eyesight and is currently at the patent stage of development, so details are sketchy.

However, the web giant appears to be working on new wearable - or should we say livable - tech that would see an electronic lens inserted into people’s eyeballs.

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The device could help fight degenerative eye diseases that impact the eye’s ability focus on near and far objects, an ocular function known as the ‘accommodation reflex’.

The process would involve removing the eye’s natural lens and replacing it with an artificially intelligent one, according to the patent application.

It is similar to current treatments for cataracts, except Google’s proposed project includes an “energy harvesting Antenna” power supply, a lens interface, an electronic lens, and data storage capabilities.

Google say existing problematic lenses could be removed by ultrasonic vibrations and “via suction.”

Solidifying fluid injected into the eye apparently keeps the implanted device in position, and it could be inserted by laser-cutting an opening into the eye lens.

“Positioning of the intraocular device, fluid, material, or elements could be accomplished by using a laser or other surgical instrument to form a hole in the anterior surface of the lens capsule,” the patent states.


But Google isn’t the only company with this vision. A patent application by Sony earlier this month showed they might one day produce a slightly less invasive, but similarly futuristic, smart contact lens.

The device, made to be worn on the eyeball, would include camera-like abilities.

Like Google’s idea, it could be linked to an external device “for example, a smartphone, a tablet… a personal computer.”

An antenna is “wirelessly connected to an external device and has a function of transmitting and receiving data and a function of supplying and receiving electric power.”

In their patent background, Sony state a desire to have the “image pickup” or camera controlled at the blink of an eye.