Google Patent Reveals Vision for Cyborg Eye Implant

By Jeremy Hsu | April 28, 2016 2:32 pm
A fictional idea for a smart contact lens in the film "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol." Credit: Paramount Pictures

A fictional idea for a smart contact lens in the film “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.” Credit: Paramount Pictures

Google has a vision for cyborg eyes that goes well beyond the idea of smart contact lenses. The Alphabet-owned company filed a patent on the idea of replacing the human eye’s natural lens with an electronic lens implant. Such a cyborg eye implant could replace normal eyesight functions and correct for eyesight problems. But the concept’s existence also hints at future possibilities for putting the capabilities of a smart contact lens directly inside the eye.

The Google patent application envisions a laser drilling a hole in the lens capsule that protects the human eye’s natural lens, according to research provided by legal technology firm ClientSide. Ultrasonic vibrations would help shatter the eye’s natural lens so that the fragments could be suctioned out the hole. That would clear the way for the injection of the electronic lens device and a fluid capable of solidifying into silicone hydrogel. The end result? A new electronic lens that can adjust its shape to provide the appropriate focus for normal eyesight — or correct for problems such as nearsighted vision without requiring extra contact lenses or glasses.

Such a cyborg eye implant could change its shape and adjust the wearer’s vision by using technologies such as liquid crystals , micro mirrors, and tiny micro-fluidic pumps. It may also include additional lenses to help fix eyesight problems such as myopia (nearsightedness) or astigmatism.

The implant could wirelessly send data to a smartphone, tablet or laptop that has an Internet connection. Such devices could then pass on the data to an optometrist’s office or a clinic. In response, an optometrist or another medical expert could potentially send signals with commands to change the programming that controls the electronic lens vision. That might represent the equivalent of a wireless update for corrective lens prescriptions

To keep the cyborg eye implant running, Google’s patent suggests an energy harvesting antenna that can receive wireless power transmissions from nearby power sources. That means a nearby power source worn as a piece of jewelry or clothing could keep the cyborg eye implant continuously powered. Alternatively, a power source could recharge the battery of the implant while the person is sleeping.

The most obvious application of this cyborg eye implant relates to Google’s known plans for smart contact lenses. One smart contact lens application would use sensors to measure glucose levels in the tears of people with diabetes. But a previous Google patent application described how a smart contact lens could also allow wearers to read information in barcodes, detect environmental allergens, and monitor the wearer’s body temperature or blood-alcohol level, according to Tech Insider. In 2014, a University of Michigan team even described new sensor technology that could provide night vision in a smart contact lens.

A patent application never guarantees that a company will actually turn the idea into a product. But this particular patent suggests that Google is certainly keeping the future of smart eye devices and implants in mind. It may also represent another step toward the future of cyborg implants beyond artificial arms and legs — something more akin to the science fiction visions of the Japanese anime classic “Ghost in the Shell” or the smart contact lenses worn in spy thrillers such as the “Mission: Impossible” films.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: technology, top posts, Uncategorized
  • Li Frank

    The Cyborg Eye Implant with Vision is really very cool, thx for your good sharing.

  • Uncle Al

    PDMS intraocular lenses were awful. Silicone abrades the rear iris, releases pigment granules; transport into anterior chamber, foul trabecular mesh, acute glaucoma. Silicone resists NVP grafting (including turbostratic burial). Silicone blooms oil, transmits UV, and opacifies. Described ultrasonic phakoemulsification is unrealistic.

    I tamed IOL silicone at Pharmacia Ophthalmics. “solidifying into silicone hydrogel” is optically unrealistic. Fabricate then implant a device, removing bad luck. NVP surface-grafted PMMA is miraculous. If grafting solution is snot not thin syrup afterward, I can save you. Average saline contact angle 18 – 20 degrees 100 PMMA IOLs a shot, plus haptic survival.

    Invulneron hydrogel: PDMS strength, PMMA RI. I created it at Optical Radiation Corp.; never disclosed. Want samples?

    • Emkay

      Do not need samples, but I created Buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris L.) is an apomictic species that is widely adapted to arid and semi-arid, tropical and warm climates. Six apomictic cultivars used as male parents, one sexual line used as the female parents and 15 putative F1 genotypes were studied using the amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) technique for their evaluation and recognition. The NTSYS programme and Jaccard’s Index were used to establish the genetic similarity; and a phenogram was constructed. A total of 152 bands was recorded. Three primer combinations were sufficient to identify the genotypes. The maximum proportion of polymorphisms was 0·835, and 0·510 of the polymorphisms consisted in individual bands that strictly diagnosed unique genotypes. Texas 4464 and Americana cultivars were the most different from the sexual line, indicating that they might be the best genotypes for future crossing. Two hybrids were identified among F1 material to demonstrate the usefulness of the AFLP technique in characterizing genotypes and recognizing hybrids in Buffel grass for breeding purposes. Can be an eye irritant so be cautious when you read it..

      • Uncle Al

        I demand bamboo IOLs with switchgrass haptics. First World eyes must Save All Children!

    • OphthoMD07

      Valid points about silicone but the ultrasound phacoemulsification they describe is the same technology we use today and has been used for decades now. In fact capsulorhexis and phacoemulsification would likely be performed using femtosecond laser as is the current trend.

      The main issue I see is that it relies on feedback from accommodative forces which, unless the lens will be implanted in pre-presbyopic eyes, will not work. See Crystalens and other failed ‘accommodative IOLs’.

      • Uncle Al

        Releasing debris during or after surgery can have terrible sequelae at the angle. Laser posterior capsulotomy is not better than a surgeon carefully cleaning the bag. NVP-graft a PMMA IOL then bond a dye singlet oxygen sensitizer. Singlet oxygen molecular dribble antagonized touching growth in cell culture. Oh the managerial stink! on constricting a major cashflow item.

        Crystalens was gorgeous marketing and external to insurance reimbursement. Youtube v=YyvHqYu_KXI , 1:30. Keep It Simple, Stupid: one-piece PMMA IOL, both eyes corrected to the same distance vision. Look up the product before saying “yes.” NEVER be a low serial number.

      • RedRaider

        Crystalens failure? How do you define “failed”? This study disagrees with you:

        To our knowledge, this is the first study presenting long-term visual outcomes after Crystalens HD lens implantation. No patient cited any discomfort concerning visual function throughout the postoperative period. The Crystalens HD IOL could be considered a solution for patients requiring good far, near, and intermediate vision without spectacle dependency.

        • OphthoMD07

          I was referring to the original Crystalens platform (AT-45) which did not improve near visual acuity:

          The purpose in bringing up accommodative IOLs at all was to point out that lenses and devices that rely on accommodative forces will likely not work in presbyopic patients as these forces are diminished under the current pathophysiologic model of presbyopia.

          Despite the findings in the article you cite, many still doubt the true accommodative abilities of the Crystalens HD as it is 3μm thicker in the middle of the optic than at the periphery and this additional thickness adds negative spherical aberration to the mid-peripheral zone of the optic and influences the correction of presbyopia.

          Thus, it can be argued that the ability of the Crystalens HD to correct presbyopia is likely due to this difference in central thickness and not due to the creation of a ‘pseudo-accommodative’ state. In fact it’s been shown that in order to realize the true benefit of the accommodative design, native accommodative forces must flex the haptic enough to move the lens 1.4mm in the eye.


    SONY has a patent for smart-eye-lenses. That’s beyond cool and smart.
    What Google tries is just a try-out to solve their problems. Because none of their recent projects succeeded. If Adsense/words broke down Google will fill for bankruptcy.

  • S Johnson

    I wrote a sci fi story that implements this technology; if I give proper citation for this as a source, would it be admissable for the publishing?

    • Kirito

      I don’t think you would need to cite this for a story. The idea of cybernetic optical implants is not solely googles idea. (If that’s what you’re asking for, I’m not quite sure)

    • Mack Doggs

      You can write about whatever you want.

    • Joel Lee

      You don’t need permission to write about an idea.


Lovesick Cyborg

Lovesick Cyborg examines how technology shapes our human experience of the world on both an emotional and physical level. I’ll focus on stories such as why audiences loved or hated Hollywood’s digital resurrection of fallen actors, how soldiers interact with battlefield robots and the capability of music fans to idolize virtual pop stars. Other stories might include the experience of using an advanced prosthetic limb, whether or not people trust driverless cars with their lives, and how virtual reality headsets or 3-D film technology can make some people physically ill.

About Jeremy Hsu

Jeremy Hsu is journalist who writes about science and technology for Scientific American, Popular Science, IEEE Spectrum and other publications. He received a master’s degree in journalism through the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at NYU and currently lives in Brooklyn. His side interests include an ongoing fascination with the history of science and technology and military history.


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