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Jan092014

Bringing the Future Into Focus

When it comes to technology such as the Google Glass, there is one fundamental flaw. Humans are simply unable to focus on images placed right in front of their eyes. Just hold up your finger and try to look at your fingerprint. Not the easiest thing to do and it certainly starts to give you a headache after a while. That’s why devices such as the Google Glass have to have screens placed so far away from your physical eye. Any closer and you couldn’t see anything!

However, one company at CES called Innovega, has brought a functional prototype to the show that could change the smart eyewear game. The thing that makes their smart eyewear, called iOptix, different is that they aren’t merely glasses. Instead, it’s actually a two-part system consisting of contact lenses and a pair of special glasses, that work together to give you the optical head-mounted display.

Potential for what the heads-up display could look like (Image via Cnet.com)

What makes the contact lenses special is the way they are shaped. On the outer rim would be a standard contact, which could even feature a prescription for vision correction, while the very center would feature a tiny lens only a sub-millimeter big. These contacts would then redirect light entering your eye and allow you to see things in brilliant focus both far away and extremely close. As an added bonus of sorts, because they feature your prescription, the contacts could even be worn for vision and focus correction on a normal basis without the use of the second part of the system. However, they would only function with the software in the iOptix glasses to give you that head-mounted display.

But, when it comes to actually creating the contacts, the FDA will have to get involved, but only slightly. The contacts will need to pass a market clearance. Since they are being physically inserted into your body, there are certain steps and protocols that must be followed. However, because contacts have already been approved by the FDA time and again, they won’t require a full-fledged approval. Stephen Willey, CEO of Innovega, estimates an approval sometime in late 2014 or early 2015.

The special glasses worn as part of the iOptix system (Image via Cnet.com)

The second part of the iOptix system is then the physical glasses, and here’s where Innovega’s ingenuity truly comes into play. Because they’ve already addressed the issue of focus with the lens, they now can create head-mounted displays that look much more like regular glasses compared to a device such as Google Glass. Hence, you get images placed much closer to your eyes, with six times the resolution and twenty times the area compared to Google’s device. Plus, this one pair of glasses can pull double duty, unlike other devices which can only perform one. It can give you apps in your peripheral vision that would most likely be used on a daily basis like Facebook or email, but they could also be used as a Heads-Up display, becoming ideal for truly immersive gameplay without the need for large, clunky goggles.

Right now, with just micro-projectors installed, the glasses are extremely light weight and slim, comparable to a heavy-duty pair of sunglasses. However, once Innovega finds partners to actually help create and distribute their technology, the actual functionality and weight could change. It will be up to those companies to decide what type of features to add-on, be it cameras, gesture controls, or more. It will also be up to other developers to create apps compatible with the system. Currently, the glasses sync with Android smartphones, but that could easily change in the future. But, no matter who decides to join and help manufacture the iOptix, this system has certainly already taken huge strides and we look forward to seeing where it goes in the future.

Stay tuned for more updates and stories from CES 2014 on our site, Spacebound.com.

(Story via Cnet.com)

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