Google's smart contact lens project has some Microsoft Research origins

On Thursday, Google announced that it was developing a smart contact lens, with the hopes that it could help measure glucose levels in tears for people who suffer from diabetes. As it turns out, the origins of the device are based, at least in part, on a Microsoft Research project in collaboration with researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Microsoft posted up some details on their own contact lens product in a blog post in December 2011 and even made a video that showed off their work, as shown above. Two of the device's researchers who worked at the University of Washington, Babak Parviz and Brian Otis, later joined Google's own advanced projects lab and were listed on the company's blog post on Thursday as the co-founders of the smart contact lens device. Parvis is briefly shown in the 2011 Microsoft Research video.

GeekWire reports that, according to a statement from Google, the lens technology that Parviz and Otis developed at their company was made from scratch. However, it's fair to say they got some inspiration from their earlier collaboration with Microsoft. We have emailed Microsoft to see if they wish to comment on the links between their older research and the new Google project.

Source: Microsoft and GeekWire

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Tthis is NOTHING new in the tech industry. As long as no NDA's are being broken or any infringements on MS properties, who the hell cares. MS had a chance to develop this, they didnt. So no, MS is not and did not make the world a better place in this case or really invent anything. Nothing came to market. Companies pick up where others left off all the time.

I swear people just complain to hear themselves complain.

I see you complaining all the time, you are even complaining now about people complaining. And yet, I don't ever see you complain about yourself, but you complain a lot about other people.

This is listed as an active research project by Microsoft. Google even poached the Microsoft employee working on this. But if Microsoft copies anything, a color, a shape, etc. then people whine endlessly about it, you have companies putting up signs such as "Redmond, start your photocopiers," Google will run out and spend billions on a company that is suing Microsoft for copying. When that happens it is good because we need to stop Microsoft blindly copying. Other companies copy Microsoft, then you just need to stop complaining about it.

Edit - I guess I shouldn't make that big a deal about it. Google makes a big push to make sure everybody knows how they are bettering humanity, some people get all excited about it, and then a year from now Google will quietly cancel the project like they have 100s of times before without anybody noticing or Google telling anyone.

Edited by WhatTheSchmidt, Jan 17 2014, 7:30pm :

Again, who the **** cares as long as no NDA are being violated and tech stolen. What Google is doing is no different from any other company. The only difference here is the company name and what certain people feel about the company.

techbeck said,
What does them buying Moto have anything to do with the OP. Different subject.

Exactly. To you, Google copying Microsoft is just fine, nothing to see here, move along. But when Google buys a company so that they have a way of dragging Microsoft to court because of copying, even if Google loses billions in the process, then we don't want to talk about that, complain about changing the subject, and try to hide that it happened.

WhatTheSchmidt said,

Exactly. To you, Google copying Microsoft is just fine, nothing to see here, move along.

If you want to discuss the Moto acquisition by Google, then open a topic for discussion. You are wrong about my opinion here and obviously know nothing on what I said about this, lets face it, off topic discussion.

Anything else you assumed about what I think about Google is wrong and you would know that if you know anything about what I posted over the years. I have nothing to prove to you but if you want to keep bickering about what I post in pretty much any topic on the front page I post in, continue if it makes you feel good.

You like to condemn people for things you yourself do, don't you.

Here you are complaining about people complaining, people changing the subject when all I am doing is asking for your opinion even though up above you started talking about tablets when my comment, this article, and nobody said anything about tablets. But you want to distract away from the original subject, that is fine, but I ask you a question to see what you think - you know, so we can discuss - and you start complaining (which is something that you supposedly do not like) about me changing the subject.

Isn't this the point where you change the subject and start whining that I am really somebody else?

Its apparent you are oblivious about anything I post here, comments I made about Google about things they dont agree with, and that I say the same these same things about any company. But keep assuming you know what going on if that makes you feel better. I have nothing to prove to you or anyone else. So, enjoy.

Have a good day.

I have seen you make negative comments about Google, but you have also complained about what Microsoft has done while cheerleading when Google does the same. Your refusal to even enter a discussion, flip-flopping from introducing unrelated subjects when it helps you but complaining about questions since it is off topic, says much more about what you think than if you were to answer the question directly.

WhatTheSchmidt said,
This is listed as an active research project by Microsoft. Google even poached the Microsoft employee working on this.

The crux of the matter would be knowing first hand from those two guys why they decided to go with Google to keep working on their project as part of the Google[x] labs instead of continuing their work with Microsoft.

As nice and useful as these lenses might be, this isn't anywhere near being a critical project for Google's business. I don't see why they'd want to poach the two engineers when they already have plenty of weird projects to work on (eg. through the recently adquired Boston Dynamics).

According the article those two guys weren't actual Microsoft employees, they worked in the University of Washington. Maybe MS had no interest in hiring, maybe they saw more possibilities of the project being released as an actual product any time soon with Google...

techbeck said,
Again, who the **** cares as long as no NDA are being violated and tech stolen. What Google is doing is no different from any other company. The only difference here is the company name and what certain people feel about the company.

You are partially right and partially wrong.

Microsoft probably doesn't give a crap, they give away a vast amount of technology to hardware/software partners and the entire computing industry all the time.

However, not all companies do what Google did. I agree that Google and Apple do stuff like this all the time, but Microsoft couldn't afford to do this, especially with the cross hairs on them over the years. Even when it is a 'similar' technology that was developed separately, Microsoft steps in and buys out the technology or company rather than leave any illusion they stole an idea.

(Products like the Kinect are a prime example - Microsoft already had their own version of this technology that predated the company that made the Kinect hardware. They didn't need the technology and didn't even use their processor, but did pay them well for their work anyway.)


Mobius Enigma said,

However, not all companies do what Google did. I agree that Google and Apple do stuff like this all the time, but Microsoft couldn't afford to do this, especially with the cross hairs on them over the years. Even when it is a 'similar' technology that was developed separately, Microsoft steps in and buys out the technology or company rather than leave any illusion they stole an idea.

Perhaps I generalized to much or wasnt specific enough....

All companies do take ideas from others and that is what I really meant. Whether or not Google poached these two guys from MS, and whether or not Google is using the same code, has yet to be seen. Not going to say either way. Not enough to go on. I am sure MS already has a team looking in to this. And who knows what the finished project will be. Google may take it in a total different direction and so may MS.

good guy Microsoft, making the world a better place for everyone
Douche bag Google and Apple, just buying technologies and people to say they are theirs.

While calling names is not necessary, there is more truth to what you wrote than you may think. During the '90s and 2000's the complaint from Apple and Linux fanboys was that Microsoft just bought all their tech and never invented anything. Even during the DOJ trial, this was used as an argument as to the reason for the trial by a few state Attorneys General and I kind of remember a Senator or two. And we saw it within the past couple years, when it was found that Microsoft licensed some tech for Kinect it was an outrage that Microsoft cannot invent anything on their own, but then Apple buys it and it will give us great technology in devices such as the Apple TV.

Aww look at that, Recursive saw Microsoft in the title and just had to open his big mouth.

Microsoft Research has does a ton of scientific work, not everything MS does is Windows and Office.

recursive said,
Grasping at straws here a little, aren't we?

How?

This type of stuff is pretty common.

The gestures and multi-touch used on the iPhone were developed by a MS/MIT and presented at TED. This isn't grasping at straws either, you can easily find the TED video and notice the date.

(Apple copied the technology exactly, not even adding their own variation, and to this day they still call the technology 'theirs'. Apple even had the TED video removed when posted on sites like Youtube before TED content was brought online.)

The trick here is that Microsoft really doesn't care. They put out so much technology and give away so much technology to their hardware partners and the computing industry as a whole, this is tiny stuff.

Side Note:
Technologies/Projects not getting a chance to become products or projects getting pulled early were a major effect of the Ballmer years as CEO.

Ballmer tried to make Microsoft too business and profit motivated, which need faster returns than a lot of products got a chance to deliver. Even TabletPC was crippled by a few idiots in Microsoft and Ballmer listening to them because it didn't have major financial returns just one year into its release.

(This was the opposite of Gates that would let projects run in R&D even if the product wouldn't be viable due to processing power/hardware for another 10 years.)

j2006 said,
It's actually not a waste, it's still in their research labs. It wasn't cancelled or anything.

Yes, I know. It is technology that is in incubation. MS has a knack of doing that. However, it is still a waste if it is not being used out there.

WhatTheSchmidt said,
Once again, Microsoft invents it and others claim it as their own.

I know! How many things has Microsoft released 2-5 years before anyone else, it seemingly "flopped" then gets re-released by someone else and is "amazing" or "magical"? It seems to me like this happens a lot...

Scabrat said,

I know! How many things has Microsoft released 2-5 years before anyone else, it seemingly "flopped" then gets re-released by someone else and is "amazing" or "magical"? It seems to me like this happens a lot...

MS has the vision, but their timing is awful. A good example of that is the Smart Watches that they've released in the 90's. Unfortunately, the Internet was still in its infancy at that time. Now Smart Watches are coming back as an add-on to your smartphone.

RommelS said,

MS has the vision, but their timing is awful. A good example of that is the Smart Watches that they've released in the 90's. Unfortunately, the Internet was still in its infancy at that time. Now Smart Watches are coming back as an add-on to your smartphone.

Dont forget tablets. MS had some prototype tablets years ago before Apple they never developed. So either they have bad timing, or just dont know how to market certain things.

techbeck said,

Dont forget tablets. MS had some prototype tablets years ago before Apple they never developed. So either they have bad timing, or just dont know how to market certain things.

The market back then was quite different from now. Yes, I remember the tablet, and in fact, MS also released Windows for Tablets in the 90's as well. I remember attending their presentation in New Orleans, but when they spoke, it is more for the corporate environment, and not much for consumer consumption. Then again, everything was just starting at that time; the Internet, PCs at home, cable vs. DSL and such. The cool factor just wasn't quite there yet.

techbeck said,

Dont forget tablets. MS had some prototype tablets years ago before Apple they never developed. So either they have bad timing, or just dont know how to market certain things.

And people made fun of it because nobody wants to use a computer without a keyboard. When Microsoft introduced UMPC it was horrible because it was too small, and used touch. Who wants to touch the screen and get it all grimy? No, we all want a desktop computer, and if we want to be mobile then we will just carry around a laptop.

The issue was that Microsoft was ahead of the tech. The battery lifetime was not there yet. Capacitive touch was around, but still in its infancy. Displays were still too heavy. The one thing Apple is really, really good at is waiting until the tech is ready, then they jump on it. Meanwhile other companies - Microsoft and Google - think up what is next before the tech is there.

I see no where Google claiming this as their own. They just said they are developing a product and it happens to be similar to what MS is doing. They claim the code is from scratch, no the idea. That is it. Whether or not the code is from scratch, i am not going to speculate. But things like this happen every day. Welcome to the tech world.

techbeck said,
I see no where Google claiming this as their own. They just said they are developing a product and it happens to be similar to what MS is doing. They claim the code is from scratch, no the idea. That is it. Whether or not the code is from scratch, i am not going to speculate. But things like this happen every day. Welcome to the tech world.

I think the sticking point here is that MS founded their work while they are working in Washington University. Then MS incubated the technology, and now those two decided to revive their development under Google.

Which brings back to my point ...MS just have bad timing.

With employees that worked on the same project at MS. And let's face it, when Apple so-called copied the tablet idea, at least it was related to their business. A contact lense that measures blood glucose levels is very narrow, very specific. Not something that you on a whim decide to build.

WhatTheSchmidt said,
With employees that worked on the same project at MS. And let's face it, when Apple so-called copied the tablet idea, at least it was related to their business. A contact lense that measures blood glucose levels is very narrow, very specific. Not something that you on a whim decide to build.

That, and not everyone will actually use this just to measure their glucose level. However, MS does need to now how to market this thing because the way technology is going at the moment, this could be a hit for young adults that have diabetes. Someone in MS need to reassess what they have and get it going.

WhatTheSchmidt said,

And people made fun of it because nobody wants to use a computer without a keyboard. When Microsoft introduced UMPC it was horrible because it was too small, and used touch. Who wants to touch the screen and get it all grimy? No, we all want a desktop computer, and if we want to be mobile then we will just carry around a laptop.

The issue was that Microsoft was ahead of the tech. The battery lifetime was not there yet. Capacitive touch was around, but still in its infancy. Displays were still too heavy. The one thing Apple is really, really good at is waiting until the tech is ready, then they jump on it. Meanwhile other companies - Microsoft and Google - think up what is next before the tech is there.

UMPC was even a 'late' development at Microsoft. They had WinCE based tablets in 1999 and remote screen tablets for XP back in 2001.

..and it was 'touch' and/or the 'stylus' that everyone didn't like about them.


This stuff happens all the time, where technology can sit around for literally 10 years before people ever try it and realize it was nothing like they expected.

I read a 'pro' Microsoft Surface Pro 2 review earlier this week, and the 'tech' writer was shocked that they found the 'Stylus' usable, and was sure to mention to users that it worked like a mouse and wasn't anything like a capacitive stylus mimicking touch on the screen.
(And the writer didn't even realize or mention that it also was pressure sensitive for drawing, they were just happen to have it click on things like a mouse would and not imitate the touch UI commands.)

Basically... "The one thing Apple is really, really good at is waiting until the tech is ready"... You mean, Apple is good at copying others, right?

techbeck said,

Dont forget tablets. MS had some prototype tablets years ago before Apple they never developed. So either they have bad timing, or just dont know how to market certain things.


I would say they have a **** production team. Not ****, they just keep missing what people want now.