Science fiction movies have long shown us futuristic example of augmented reality without the use of a handheld device. Arnold Schwarzenegger sported a heads-up display as a cyborg in the Terminator series, but that may not be too far off from what is coming to an eye near you. Innovega, Inc. has created the iOptik, an amazing feat that allows users to wear contact lenses and receive images and video direction through their eye. The natural reaction is that this would inhibit regular vision, but Innovega shows it will not and the attached video proves it.
With this technology, it is possible to view the image displayed on the lens and the natural environment at the same time. This is done by using polarizing light that basically convinces your eye that it is part of the background. Your eye can only focus on one distance at a time, so in order to view this and your natural environment at the same time, your eye cannot think they are at two different focal lengths.
Innovega expects the to be available for consumer purchase by 2014 and feels they can be used for integration with cell phones and even 3D movies. Cell phones can project emails, text messages, images and any other data via Bluetooth. 3D movies are possible by projecting a different image into each eye to create a 3D effect. This is particularly convenient for people who wear glasses and currently have to remove them to use the 3D glasses.
While 2014 may be a couple of years away, Innovega is already producing iOptik lenses for an order by Defense Advanced Research Projects Association, better known as DARPA. DARPA feels these lenses could be used by soldiers in the field by providing additional information about points of interest and targets. The deal with DARPA was just signed this week with no deadline for delivery or testing.