January 7, 2014 – A new contact lens combined with what appears to be fashionable sunglasses containing micro-projectors makes it possible for a wearer to see the world around them while at the same time view a virtual image less than 1.27 centimeters (0.5 inches) away.
Normally we cannot easily focus on both near and far objects. The near objects tend to become blurred. But with the iOptik (TM) contact lens a wearer’s vision becomes dramatically sharper, seeing details of objects close to the eye, so close in fact that they fit within the normal frame of reference of a person wearing glasses. By projecting content on to the eye wear suddenly the viewer sees both the real-world and the virtual one in sharp focus.
The developer of this novel contact lens and eye wear is Innovega Inc., a Bellevue, Washington company. Their mission to make integrated real and virtual-world eye wear seamless. No more bulky optical headsets. Instead you have fashionable eye wear that looks no different than a great pair of sunglasses.
How does the iOptik contact lens work? It lets the eye see light from both the virtual display and surrounding environment by passing the former through the center of the pupil, and the latter through the outer portion of the pupil. The two images focus on the retina simultaneously and become fully integrated.
The eye wear projects images that appear to the wearer like an in-screen display. Innovega intends to license their technology to commercial partners.
When will the product be available? The guess is two or three years from now with a $500 U.S. price tag.