The concept of vision enhancing glasses came well before the idea of Pure Optical contact lenses, and with augmented reality goggles only just making their way out of the test labs we’d think it would be quite some time before we saw the technology translated into the minutely thin layers of film which make up contacts
According to US development company Innovega though, that wait might not be as long as we’d think. Recently, they’ve announced that lenses able to project 3D screens directly onto people’s eyes could be with us as early as 2014 – the same year that Google has stamped for release of their Project Glass.
The lenses are planned to work in conjunction with lightweight glasses with a translucent screen, and together Innovega’s CEO says that the experience will be similar to that of viewing a 240 inch television from a distance of 10 feet – sounds immersive.
The experience provided by the combination of lenses and glasses is set to team with other electronic devices such as mobile phones and games consoles to deliver close-up video like never before, as well as layering translucent augmented reality over the real world.
Because the lenses work with glasses they need no power, and this means that potential health hazards associated with wearing such a device can be mitigated. What’s more, it can all be worn ‘hands free’ and because of the nano-scale engineering it won’t fall off in movement – it could even be lighter and less intrusive than Google’s own AR glasses.
What’s most important about the device though is the fact that, unlike earlier attempts at displaying information in front of the eyes, Innovega’s concept will allow the user to focus simultaneously on near and distant objects.
Is this really a step forward from AR glasses?
It’s difficult to say. Innovega claim their device will be popular among the millions who choose to wear contact lenses, but it seems like if you opt to give the contacts a try you’ll also have to wear a pair of special glasses anyway – and if anything that seems more awkward than other AR attempts.
The big thing here is the ability to focus on multiple things at once. It’s unlikely that duel focus technology is a pressing issue on the minds of most civilians, but when you place something like this into a military situation it certainly becomes a lot more useful. This seems to be just the intention too, as research into the technology is being funded by DARPA – the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Whether AR contacts seem unrealistic or not, it’s worth remembering that DARPA have been a name behind some pioneering technologies in the past which began as wacky ideas cooped up in a test lab, so it’s worth giving a chance yet.
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