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Forget Google Glass, meet the search giant's smart contact lens patent

Want the hands-free capabilities of Google Glass minus the awkward looks or assaults? Google is working on a solution.

According to a patent application disclosed this week, Google envisions a camera-enhanced smart contact lens that is controlled by the wearer's eye movements.

These "image capture components" could be integrated on or in the contacts, Patent Bolt first reported, allowing the lens to process image data and perform functions locally or via a remote device.

Essentially, the technology could allow users to gaze over a scene, capturing image data along the way, which can then be retouched and shared on a tablet or smartphone.

According to Patent Bolt, the image data can be processed to detect light, colors, patterns, objects, faces, motion, and other information, all the while never obstructing your pupil's vision.

Just as researchers are testing the Glass headset's usability among folks with disabilities, Google has high hopes for its futuristic contacts to assist those with visual impairments.

Say a blind wearer is headed for a busy intersection: The contacts' built-in camera processes the nearby image data, determines that there are cars approaching, and sends an alert to the wearer's mobile phone. Once it is safe to cross, another mobile notification goes off.

Those with healthy vision could benefit from the technology, as well. As Patent Bolt suggests, processed image data could be presented on a display integrated into the lens, perhaps flashing an LED light or widening the peripheral view when it senses an incoming vehicle.

Other possible uses for Google's smart contact lenses: facial recognition by law enforcement and natural zoom for distance viewing.

Stephen Demianyk, UK channel manager at Ipswitch, was keen to highlight the impact of such a technology on businesses. "Businesses are exposing themselves to increasing risk if they don't start now to assess the impact of wearable technology on their IT networks," he said.

"If smart contact lenses, wigs, watches, glasses and gloves become as commonplace as a smartphone is today, the impact on corporate IT will be huge. All these gadgets need to pair with an 'original' device, which will significantly multiply the number of devices attempting to access networks. For those who found BYOD a challenge, expect the wearable technology revolution to be like BYOD x 100."

Google first tipped its smart contact lens in January. Google project leaders Brian Otis and Babak Parviz discussed a "tiny wireless chip" and sensors that measure the glucose in tears to calculate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.