DARPA Developing AR Contacts A la Google GlassThis must be the month of augmented reality. Fresh on the heels of the Google Glass AR display reveal and the news that Valve is working on wearable computers, it turns out that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has decided to up its investment into augmented reality.
That means that it is giving more money to one of its contractors, Innovega, money to develop contacts that also deliver tactical information. Apparently the company finds their current spate of AR goggles to be bulky and cumbersome.
The technology centers around Innovega’s iOptik lens (god help them if they ever enter the consumer market), a small contact lens that doesn’t actually contain any display technology. Rather, the lens is actually a lens, specially designed to let the eye focus on a separate display that sits close to the eye. Normally the distance would be too short for the eye to resolve the information, but thanks to the lens, that is a problem of the past.
This approach is similar to what most video goggle companies do to fix the focus problem. Vuzix, for example, uses a complex series of optics in front of the display to rectify the image so that it looks like it is sitting several feet in front of your face. The difference is that Innovega has moved the bulky lenses to the eye in the form of a contact lens.
DARPA is thinking purely of the military applications this tech has. Think about being able to jump into the pilot seat of a drone flying overhead, for example, whenever you need. Or being able to pull up a map of the area and overlay it on a complicated street, complete with turn by turn directions (GPS was a military project first, remember).
But most military tech has a way of trickling down to the average consumer. Given time, we’ll likely see the offspring of this tech populating the eyes of our children.
That is, of course, if Valve, Microsoft, Apple and Google don’t beat them to it.
Check out the cool video below for more information about the project.