Are smart contact lenses safe and secure?

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People have long been fascinated by the possibilities of smart contact lenses. Now that some options may be available for purchase relatively soon, holders may wonder if these products will have sufficient security.

So what should you know about smart contact lenses? Are they realistic? And, more importantly, will they actually be safe to use?

So far, only a few companies aim to commercialize smart contacts. Here are some key things to know about them.

Innovega


woman with red hair at night in brown knitted hat wearing black glasses

Innovega has its eMacula product, which includes smart glasses and contacts that people wear together. The company does not specify what role the lenses play in the user experience. However, its website indicates that the content is transmitted to the screens integrated into the glasses.

It doesn’t mention anything about security or data collection and storage.

Additionally, the overarching question of when people can buy this product remains unanswered. An entry on the company’s FAQ page about when someone might buy the glasses said Innovega expects to get regulatory clearance by 2018, but there are no updates. more recent days. A banner on the homepage also announced an investment opportunity that was due to close on November 12, 2021.

Azalea Vision


purple and blue neon man with hands covering eyes

Azalea Vision is a Belgian startup with a medical vocation for its smart contacts. The company raised €8 million in a Series A funding round in the summer of 2021. Its goal is to make smart contact lenses for people with light sensitivity and eye conditions.

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The company’s team is still working on it, but the idea is that the lenses would automatically adjust the perceived brightness of incoming light. Eye care professionals would also customize lenses for individual wearers.

These smart contacts could have wide appeal if approved. For example, approximately eight percent of white men suffer from color blindness; severe cases can cause sensitivity to light. Additionally, the Azalea Vision team intends to target migraine sufferers with its lenses as bright environments can aggravate these often debilitating headaches.

Azalea Vision does not mention the security aspect. However, there is no indication that these lenses collect data.

Mojo


dark-haired woman in a bun in a dark room touching an illuminated digital display in front of her

Mojo has developed its Mojo lens, which can correct someone’s vision and display digital overlay content in the environment. For example, once someone completes a run, they can see a map of their route, along with relevant stats, displayed on a surface in front of them.

The lenses have grain-of-sand-sized LED displays, as well as smart sensors that run on solid-state batteries.

Mojo claims its contact lenses run on a proprietary platform called Invisible Computing. It only provides information when needed. Of the society website also suggests emphasizing data privacy:

“Asking you to wear Mojo Lens is something we don’t take lightly, and we’re committed to earning your trust. That’s why we’re building our Invisible Computing platform to keep your data secure and private.

It continues:

“We believe that the things you do with Mojo Lens should be yours and yours alone; the technology should benefit the user, not the other way around. We are committed to being open with you about our product design and the how we deliver our experiences to you in simple terms.”

However, the company does not provide further details. His promises seem intriguing, but keeping them can pose unforeseen challenges.

Security Questions for Developers

Users can increase the security of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and these tips could also apply to smart contact lenses. For example, people who buy products with an app that has a default password should immediately change it to something that’s hard to guess.

They should also ensure that associated software is kept up to date, including enabling automatic updates if possible.

Related: Common Internet of Things (IoT) Security Issues and Fixes

However, security begins in the development phase. Here are some actionable questions developers should ask themselves when working on smart contacts.

Does it have unnecessary capabilities and features?

In today’s crowded IoT market, companies remain under pressure to launch products with the best and latest features. However, answering this call sometimes puts security at risk. Developers need to assess which components of their smart contacts could open the products to third-party threats.

They must then determine how best to mitigate these risks through security measures. Performing cybersecurity testing on products in development is a great way to see if preventative measures hold up against simulated attacks.

Including features that give users more control over IoT security is a great idea. In the hypothetical case of smart contacts that allow people to purchase products they see, users can choose not to store their credit card details. They could also use a feature that disables purchases if they lose their payment card.

This limits what data hackers can access and what they do with it.

How will people report security breaches?

Since smart contact lenses are newer products, people are likely to be particularly interested in how safe they are to use. Security professionals engage in ethical hacking to answer this crucial question.

However, a November 2021 report showed that less than 22% of organizations have vulnerability disclosure policies (VDPs) in place. These frameworks specify how affected parties should report issues they find. A VDP may also include details to protect the disclosing party from possible legal ramifications.


IoT developers need to ask themselves the crucial questions surrounding vulnerability reports, including what to do once new information arrives. For example, how will a vendor attempt to recreate the findings of a cybersecurity researcher?

How will we monitor issues and send updates?

In an ideal situation, consumers would never know about safety issues with their smart contact lenses. Instead, the developers would be aware of them and fix them fairly quickly before the associated issues arise.

Developers should explore how they could incorporate diagnostic features that help them monitor issues and fix them internally. This helps development teams catch performance issues and decreasing stability before customers or researchers notice the shortcomings.

Likewise, developers need to think about the best ways to update smart contacts as needed. It is not enough to expect all users to install new versions of software or firmware. Some will, but catching those who fall through the cracks means considering how a vendor could automatically distribute updates to connected devices on their end.



Woman with short hair in white coat looking through slit lamp

Researchers are also interested in how smart contact lenses could help people stay healthier. The related efforts are in their early stages, and it appears that those involved have yet to discuss security features. However, it is worth mentioning what is in progress, especially since the results can improve life and alter disease management.

One innovation is smart contact lenses that detect diabetes. They can also help treat diabetic retinopathy, which damages the retina and can lead to loss of sight, because the contacts have a built-in drug delivery system. The developers did not specify how the contacts detect signs of diabetes, but did confirm that the products were equipped with wireless sensors.

Elsewhere, scientists from lost university made smart contacts for the early detection and diagnosis of eye diseases, including glaucoma. Soft lenses include sensors that record electrophysiological retinal activity, allowing discreet monitoring. Since the contacts are currently undergoing clinical trials, it will be some time before they are commercially available.


Ultimately, researchers in Japan developed self-hydrating smart contact lenses to prevent uncomfortable dryness. These products rely on electro-osmotic flow, which causes liquid to move in response to voltage sent across a charged surface.

Current application for these lenses is on a hydrogel, stimulating the flow of fluid from a wearer’s temporary tear reservoir to the surface of the eye. The team also tested two batteries in their experiments.

This overview shows why many people are rightly excited about smart lenses that go beyond vision correction. Although many of these products are still in their infancy, a focus on safety could make people more eager to try them when they become available.


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