Google Glass may not have smashed it, but here’s how the tech industry is still chasing the holy grail of screens in our eyes.
IMAGINE that, with the simple blink of an eye, you could take photos and shoot videos. You could have important information displayed as you go about your day right in front of your eyes, without the help of your smartphone. You could look at a wall and have a movie projected on it or see live sports play directly in front of you, and you wouldn’t need a tangle of wires to do it. Imagine that you could bring the software currently trapped in your smartphone and tablet screens to life, in 3D, right there in the room.
These are just some of the mindboggling ideas being developed in tech right now, and the hardware holding all the promise is the simple contact lense. One of the companies at the forefront of the innovation, RaayonNova, is set to address next week’s Wearable Europe conference in Berlin. The conference is a showcase of advancements in wearable technology, one of the biggest trends in tech today.
RaayonNova currently holds patents for the 'smart contact lenses' concept; devices it says could be controlled by eye movements. It’s not the only company vying for position in this area, however; big tech firms like Samsung and Google are also among companies chasing the tech and filing patents for similar bionic lenses.
Google – which famously brought the concept of tiny screens in our eyes to worldwide attention with Google Glass in 2013 - is currently in the process of developing contact lenses which can measure glucose levels in tears. This would allow diabetics to monitor blood sugar levels instead of using the finger prick technique to draw blood.
At the more experimental side of things is the augmented reality startup Magic Leap, which is involved in an area known as ‘mixed reality’: the idea of seamlessly blending digital displays with our normal vision through smart glasses, goggles or contact lenses. Sam Miller, the firm’s director, has described it as “like dreaming with your eyes open”.
In one Magic Leap demo video, a man is depicted looking around a room filled with virtual windows displaying videos. He goes shopping online and sees products rendered in 3D in front of him, while a school of jellyfish stream gracefully through the air in his apartment.
Current tech involves the use of bulky headsets to create such experiences. However, the race is on to bring this technology to contact lenses. If and when that is realised, developers believe it could be revolutionary – fundamentally changing the way people see the world around them.