April 21, 2012
Pentagon Orders Virtual Reality Contact Lenses
iOptik contact lenses enhance normal vision by allowing a wearer to view virtual and augmented reality images without the need for bulky apparatus. Instead of oversized virtual reality helmets, digital images are projected onto tiny full-color displays that are very near the eye.
Innovega, the iOptik system's developer, told the BBC it had signed a contract earlier this week to deliver a fully-functioning prototype to the Pentagon's research laboratory, DARPA.
iOptik contact lenses enhance normal vision by allowing a wearer to view virtual and augmented reality images without the need for bulky apparatus. Instead of oversized virtual reality helmets, digital images are projected onto tiny full-color displays that are very near the eye. These novel contact lenses allow users to focus simultaneously on objects that are close up and far away. This could improve ability to use tiny portable displays while sill interacting with the surrounding environment.
The US Department of Defense had previously funded part of the Washington-based firm's initial engineering work on the project.
"The new contract gives us an immediate opportunity to start prototyping and demonstrating elements of this new system," Innovega's chief executive Steve Willey said.
The chief executive said he also hoped to license the technology to be sold to the public.
One suggested application would be to allow users to watch what appear to be big-screen 3D movies on their glasses - with a different image projected to each lens.
Potential uses include augmented reality eyewear similar to that teased by Google in its recent Project Glass demo, and a device to offer gamers a more immersive experience.
The lenses are still going through clinical trials as part of the US Food and Drug Administration's approval process, but Mr Willey said he was confident the tech should be available to the public towards the end of 2014.
The BBC's Click has a video of the contact lens project available here.
SOURCE BBC News
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Tags: augmented reality, contact lenses, Darpa, gadget, gadgets, innovega, iOptik, SCENICC, virtual reality
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