Google patents iris-recognising biometric contact lens

Google is no stranger to packing technology into contact lenses, having already patented a lens to detect blood-sugar levels. Its latest patented contact lens aims to create the ultimate biometric password, using your iris as the key.

Google patents iris-recognising biometric contact lens

The patent describes a contact lens loaded with sensors to detect light. By measuring the light reflected off an iris, the lens can create a composite image of an individual’s iris and compare it to an image stored within its memory. If the two images match up, access is granted to whatever service you’re using.

Google doesn’t really expand on how the technology works, or its potential applications, stating simply that “in various implementations, the contact lens can be employed in systems and/or methods associated with authentication and identification”.

The desire for a biometric lens has come about due to the inconvenience of current authentication systems. “Unfortunately, conventional biometric systems and techniques are relatively inconvenient to use,” reads the Background section of the patent. “The inconvenience is exacerbated as the number of secure devices continues to grow. As such, new approaches for user verification are desired.”


Google clearly envisions this technology becoming a way to provide secure authentication for a variety of devices and services. It could mean an end to password-management tools, with no need to remember random strings of numbers or awkward passwords. Instead of having to touch a thumbpad on your phone, or punch in a code or pattern to unlock it, it would simply unlock when you pick it up.

Biometric contact lenses could also spell the end for stolen passwords, as it’s far harder to mock up biometric data. And, before you suggest some grisly workaround, a user’s eye would need to be attached to them for the system to work. While the patent doesn’t detail such information, without blood the iris would cloud over and thus the light it reflects would dull. This raises questions around how flexible its sensors are in regards to general eye degradation and infections.

If Google can pair this technology with the contact lens for diabetics that it’s working on with Novartis, we could see Google reshape our world once more.

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