Apple to meet with augmented reality contact lens firm EPGL, discuss possible iOS support

in General Discussion edited September 2016
Apple's iOS might be first to support an augmented reality contact lens system currently in development at EP Global Communications, as the two companies are scheduled to meet next week to discuss potential platform integrations.

EPGL's smart contact lens proof of concept.

According to a tweet posted to EPGL's official Twitter account late last month, the firm is slated to meet with Apple on Sept. 13 "to explore use of iOS for mobile in future augmented reality lenses." EPGL has not yet settled on a single mobile operating system to pair with its AR contact lens project, the company clarified in a statement to AppleInsider .

"We are having an introductory conversation with Apple about the iOS platform, being the chosen platform for our augmented lens development program," said Michael Hayes, President, EP Global Communications. "We anticipate that our augmented lenses will communicate with smart phone applications for display, so we must explore platforms that we can become compatible with. iOS is obviously one of the platforms we are keenly interested in."

While Hayes stressed EPGL is strictly in the preliminary stages of sounding out potential mobile OS integrations, the company's AR contact lens system -- to which iOS devices might one day connect -- appears to be advancing through the development process at a more rapid pace. Evidenced in the photo above, EPGL has demonstrated the viability of integrating electronic circuitry into a silicone hydrogel contact lens, the first step toward projecting computer generated graphics into a user's field of vision.

Further, the firm has a number of granted and pending patents in the "smart contact lenses" and "augmented vision" fields. Last month, EPGL received its first U.S. patent grant for a "System for Contact Lens Wireless Communication," which details a method of connecting a pair of contact lenses with a host device using wireless technology. A separate piece of recently allowed IP describes a "Smart Storage Case" that acts as a liquid charging dock for future lenses.

In addition to AR graphics and data display via onboard flexible circuitry, EPGL is investigating methods of harvesting energy generated by the blink of an eye and installing autofocus mechanisms and sensors directly into silicone hydrogel substrates, among other cutting-edge technologies, according to documents seen by AppleInsider.

EPGL's smart contact lens technology, which started life as a now-defunct partnership with CooperVision, has drawn interest from industry heavyweights. In April, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, known for its Acuvue contact lens product line, won first rights to negotiate a purchase of pending EPGL technologies.

EPGL is expected to elaborate on potential Apple device support at its Smart Vision Conference 2016 on Sept. 23.

Some technology industry watchers believe virtual reality/augmented reality is the logical evolution of mobile computing. VR headsets, which transport users to a space a wholly created by a computer, has been around for years, while practical AR systems are a more recent development. Unlike VR, AR tech usually employs projectors or transparent displays to overlay data onto real world objects.

With product offerings like Oculus Rift and HTC's Vive, VR is slowly catching on with the gaming set, but a clear path to AR has been more elusive.

Tech titan Google dabbled with a simplified form of AR -- technically a wearable heads-up display -- in Google Glass, while Microsoft went a step further with its HoloLens project. Shadowy startup Magic Leap promises to combine VR and AR to create a completely new experience called merged reality, though public showings of the technology has been limited to flashy hands-off demonstrations.

Apple, too, has shown interest in AR/VR solutions, and holds a number of patents covering both software and hardware implementations. Most recently, the iPhone maker patented technology that provides for enhanced visual navigation using iPhone's camera and onboard sensor suite.

Apple CEO Tim Cook last month confirmed the company's stance on AR, saying Apple is investing heavily in the fledgling market sector.


  • Reply 1 of 38
    No way I'd place that on my eyeballs. Not even if demanded by court order.
    edited September 2016 kibitzer
  • Reply 2 of 38
    Three words: 
    Daniel Suarez -Daemon!

    I for one look forward tony new digital overlord!
  • Reply 3 of 38
    wonder how much for a buyout
  • Reply 4 of 38
    Deus Ex. 

    Augs are real, yo!
  • Reply 5 of 38
    hmmmm...would I rather have IOS in my eyes or Android? I think seeing bloatware during the day might hinder my productivity so I'll stick with IOS.
    edited September 2016 watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 38
    OMG. I just pee'd a little in my pants. How cool would this be?  No "helmet" on your head??

    i wanna drive with them on. LOL 
    edited September 2016 watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 38
    I'd rather they develop a lens replacement for cataract surgery that could be focused via Watch or iPhone for driving, reading, or computer. Wouldn't that be cool?
  • Reply 8 of 38
    I've tried contacts and I can't deal with them. I always feel like I'm going to scratch my eye. That said I have no idea where these things would get their power from.
  • Reply 9 of 38
    jSnivelyjSnively Posts: 429administrator
    razormaid said:
    OMG. I just pee'd a little in my pants. How cool would this be?  No "helmet" on your head??

    i wanna drive with them on. LOL 

    Put the AR IN MY VEINS.

  • Reply 10 of 38
    And you thought they were just "Mission: Impossible" CGI effects.
  • Reply 11 of 38
    Moving in the right direction, but not until we have Nanomachines will it become true immersion.
  • Reply 12 of 38
    irelandireland Posts: 17,798member
    Very weird. Also, battery is your soul.
    edited September 2016
  • Reply 13 of 38
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    Looks like another non-product that is exchanging business relationships and money just for the purposes of posturing. Like concept cars.

    What is that "proof of concept" lens supposed to do? Blind you as a notification? Obstruct your vision as a notification? Irritate your eyes as a notification? Is that obstruction an "augmented reality" we want? We don't yet even have comfortable VR goggles (and the existing ones are mostly for middle to upper class geek gamers), let alone wireless microscopic displays to work on contact with the cornea.

    Looks like techno-fetish BS.

    I wear lenses sometimes, by necessity. They're not exactly something I enjoy (freedom from glasses is nice until my eyes dry out or get irritated by something). Many people are pretty freaked by the idea of messing with their eyes, even for vision correction. While it wouldn't necessarily be as offensive to wear as Google glass, I don't see any but the most obsessive tech people seeking this product. And that's if the technology was even viable. As of today, I'm calling BS on this.
  • Reply 14 of 38
    All tech starts as a concept epgl has proven this concept and is the undisputed leader I'm this emerging field...imagine just the autofocus lens capability more bifocals or reading glasses just zoom in and out as needed...that alone is estimated to be a 50 billion dollar a year market...Apple has billions in cash to invest on emerging tech I hope the use their resources to speed this development along
  • Reply 15 of 38
    Super exciting technology. Johnson and Johnson, Google, Apple and  EPGL are pioneering the future. The MEMS are suspended in a gel and does not obstruct the vision. SO COOL! GO EP Global!!
  • Reply 16 of 38
    tmaytmay Posts: 6,329member
    I'd rather they develop a lens replacement for cataract surgery that could be focused via Watch or iPhone for driving, reading, or computer. Wouldn't that be cool?
    I have a lens replacement in a single eye, due to physical trauma to the cornea, and I'd prefer the eye muscle focus the lens replacement. It would be possible to power the lens from ambient light on the periphery of the lens. On the other hand, I can see your point, and if there was an app that would let you create and save focus, for reading, driving, etc, that would be an acceptable solution.
    Robert NC
  • Reply 17 of 38
    misamisa Posts: 827member
    This is interesting tech, but it has unfortunately implications

    - AR is generally about "overlaying" information rather than replacing it, so an AR contact lens is needed in both eyes and need to have their orientation syncronized otherwise you're going to see information in the center of your vision mis-aligned and thus create eyestrain

    - Powering this looks futile unfortunately. Even NFC requires a power source.

    The more likely candidate is cornea and lens replacement. eg, artificial cornea's for people who have damaged theirs, and thus a permanent orientation is set, as well as artificial lens that can be adjusted via an app (good luck getting some manufacturer to commit to a lifetime of support for an app when the phones themselves don't last 3 years.)

  • Reply 18 of 38
    NY1822 said:
    hmmmm...would I rather have IOS in my eyes or Android? I think seeing bloatware during the day might hinder my productivity so I'll stick with IOS.
    What's your definition of bloatware? Apple Maps? Apple Music? Safari? Watch app? Swype?
  • Reply 19 of 38
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    razormaid said:
    OMG. I just pee'd a little in my pants. How cool would this be?  No "helmet" on your head??

    i wanna drive with them on. LOL 
    Wires/conductors can have currents induced in them from a distance.  Just ask Marconi and Nikola Tesla.  If you induce enough current in a small conductor it can get warm. A bit more power and it can do more than get a bit warm.  Ever seen small bits of foil in a microwave?

    No way would I ever put an electrical conductor in close proximity to my eyeball.

    edited September 2016
  • Reply 20 of 38
    One day, but there is no way this is happening on a practical level any time soon. 

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