Contact Lens Cameras–Has Technology Gone Too Far?

Imagine if you could take a photo of exactly what you were looking at without having to pull out your camera. Well it’s looking increasingly likely that you will be able to in the near future.

Sony has filed a patent for a camera that fits inside a contact lens. It can zoom, store data, incorporate a lens, stabilise images and wirelessly communicate with other devices. Blink deliberately and you’ve got a photo.

Imagine trying to explain this to someone 50 years ago. It sounds like a James Bond gadget, something spies would use to gain information without ever being detected. It would give you the ability to share the world exactly as you see it.

But as amazing as this sounds, is it something we really want?

With questions being raised about iPhone cases that let you take photos covertly, do we really want this technology to become commonplace.

Sony’s new patent comes only a month after Samsung was granted a patent in South Korea for a similar device that projects images into the wearer’s eyes with built in cameras and sensors. Google also filed a similar patent in 2012 (but we haven’t seen any more come from that).

Sam Churchill / Flickr

At least when someone pulls out a camera or holds their phone up you know there is a chance a photo is being taken. But with someone just glancing your way and blinking, how would you know? This might be terrifying for some people.

With something like this, the crime angle is easy to speculate about. Anyone walking into a building could be taking photos of security systems, or plotting any number of nefarious crimes. (This is not to say these people or companies don’t already have technology to to this). So what rules or laws would have to be implemented if these cameras hit the open market?

While there have to be a certain level of encryption on the wireless devices anything can be accessed if people have the right motivation. Not only could people theoretically hack into your computer and phone, but they could now literally hack into your eyeball.

As Sony’s patent says, they might even be able to put the lens on animals. Forbes almost ironically mentions paparazzi squirrels which despite being cute, could be hitting a little too close to the truth (though personally I would choose an animal that was more domesticated).

As with all technology developments we will just have to wait and see how the masses decide to use it. But one thing is for sure–we’ll see this technology show up in TV shows before long, because as terrifying as it is for the real world, the fictional uses would make for great watching.

Originally published on DigitalRev.