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Could smart contact lenses that help you social distance better be on their way?

Could smart contact lenses that help you social distance better be on their way?
(Image credit: Getty)

We've seen plenty of innovation in the eyewear market in recent years, and now vision technology company Lenstore is hoping to take that a step further with its latest concept, which it hopes to make a reality as early as this year. While the best contact lenses online are plenty innovative enough in our opinion, Lenstore wants to take things several leaps further with its iLens smart contact lens that, according to the spec, could help you social distance, reduce screen time, and even zoom in on objects.

A collaboration between Lenstore and 'futurologist' Richard Watson, on paper the iLens concept looks incredibly sci-fi. Lenstore is designing it to help you reduce your screen time by letting you know when you need to take a break because you've been staring at a screen for too long. If successful, it would also be created with the ability to digitally zoom in on objects, to take photos, and display augmented reality information about the weather and air quality.

There’s no word yet on a release date (apparently it's this year in the UK) or the price, or whether the iLens will even receive FDA clearance for the US market. After all, it takes a long time to get clearance for standard contacts, let alone a smart version. But even as a concept this is pretty exciting. For now, here's what we do know about the iLens...

How the iLens could help you social distance

Since the coronavirus became a big part of lives just over a year ago, we’ve all been getting used to making the necessary adjustments needed to keep ourselves and those around us as safe as possible. If Lenstore manage to pull it off in time, the iLens would aim to make your life a little easier thanks to a feature called Instant Measuring. This would automatically measure if you are two meters from another person, helping you to more accurately maintain distance from those outside of your household. 

Along with wearing a reusable face mask, social distancing is vital to help slow the spread of COVID-19, a major symptom of which is fever. If you don’t yet own a fever-tracker, read our roundup of the best digital thermometers.

Lenstore also claims that, as coronavirus guidelines are updated over time, the Instant Measuring feature baked into the iLens should adapt accordingly. Via a companion app, the Bluetooth-enabled iLens would connect to iOS and Android devices so that you could, 'record and store data, expand Augmented functions, and add additional services'.

An image of the iLens concept, which could be released as early as 2021

A photo of the iLens concept (Image credit: iLens)

How the iLens could help you reduce screen time

If you’ve found yourself spending more time in front of screens this past year, you’re not alone. Lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions have resulted in a 44-minute increase in screen time per day. Studies are already showing that this increase in both children and adults is putting our eye health at risk.

‘Many of us are working remotely and staying at home under the current COVID-19 restrictions,’ says Roshni Patel, Professional Services Manager at Lenstore. ‘Our average daily screen time is inevitably going to rise because of this, and it is more important than ever to take care of our eye health.’

The iLens would aim to protect your eyes by ensuring you take regular breaks from your screen. ‘Following the 20-20-20 rule, it can remind us to look at something for 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes, a helpful trick to reduce eye strain,’ Patel explains.

Digital zoom, night vision and weather reports

While we’re interested in the the iLens’ ability to reduce screen time and help us social distance better, Lenstore wants to pack this smart contact lens with other cool features too. For example, being able to record your memories in the blink of an eye. How? A telephoto camera embedded into the lens itself would allow you to digitally zoom up to 60x, and to see in the dark. It would also display augmented reality information such as air quality alerts. 

As for charging and care, Lenstore says that the 'iLens comes with a specialized case for storage when not in use. The conductive iLens cleaning fluid allows the iLens to charge using a standard Qi Charging station while cleaning.' This is interesting, as learning how to clean contact lenses effectively is a very important part of wearing this form of corrective eyewear.

According to the spec, the iLens would be made of silicone hydrogel and designed to be worn for up to 12 months, with a battery life of 48 hours per charge. If the concept becomes a reality, you would even be able to add filters to what you’re viewing, and change the actual color of the lenses while you’re wearing them. 

It sounds incredibly futuristic to us, and we'd bet all this tech will come at quite a price if the iLens does make it to production this year.

Looking for more vision related content? Check out our guide to the best eyeglasses online, and the best vision insurance companies.

Kathryn Rosenberg

Kathryn is a freelance health and wellness writer who is passionate about the mind-body connection, the role of food as medicine, and exploring how we can live in more sustainable and humane ways. A lover of the natural world, she’s at her happiest when walking the beach, staring out at the ocean, or sat amongst lakes and mountains.