Published on August 3rd, 2012 | by John I.
Augmented Reality Contact Lenses Could Create Soldier Super Vision
If you’ve ever played Call of Duty or other similar first person shooters then you’ll no doubt appreciate the usefulness of having a map in the corner of the screen and a little radar telling you where the enemies are.
Well, thanks to Innovega’s iOptik system real soldiers in real combat situations might be about to get something very similar, as a new system featuring ‘lightweight eyewear working with advanced contact lenses’ looks set to provide a HUD (heads up display) capable of producing pin sharp real world vision as well as a panoramic virtual overlay right in front of the wearer’s eyes.
What could the technology do
The system would be capable of providing a map with live data of the whereabouts of allies and enemies as well as the structure of the current terrain including static objects and obstacles. It’s also intended to be able to provide live feeds from the cameras of other soldiers as well as satellites and vehicles.
The device’s originators say that the lenses could do all this without impeding your vision, and have likened the field of view to your own personal IMAX. Such a phrase may in itself reveal other intended functions – will we be using the device instead of a television to watch films? Will the term ‘cinema’ now mean getting some friends together and popping your AR contacts in?
What are the advantages?
This is not the first attempt at producing devices capable of displaying real-time battlefield information to soldiers, but past efforts tended to result in bulky devices which hindered the wearer and obstructed their field of vision.
Because of the close proximity to the eyes and the lack of a need for much in the way of structure, Innovega say their lenses will open the field of vision up to around 120 degrees. That said though, it seems like the device will be operating as a set of contact lenses with glasses worn over the top, so there will have to be measures in place to make sure they don’t slip.
When will we see it?
As with a lot of new technologies, they begin in the military and trickle down into consumer markets after some time. Innovega say they hope to have approval from the FDA at some point this year and will then go on to produce the device en-mass. It doesn’t look like they’re going to have any problems distributing them either, as the Department of Defence have already ordered a prototype.
The idea might seem unlikely, but Innovega have worked with companies renowned for bringing these mad-scientist inventions to life in the past, so this might all be a reality sooner than we think.
Rob writes about technology for spectacles provider Direct Sight.