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January 17, 2008

Glasses with displays projected into your retina ? Old school. Now contact lens with displays


Engineers at the University of Washington have for the first time used manufacturing techniques at microscopic scales to combine a flexible, biologically safe contact lens with an imprinted electronic circuit and lights. Previously the Virtual Retina display (VRD) was invented at the University of Washington in the Human Interface Technology Lab in 1991.

Advances in printable electronics will make these systems very powerful and affordable in the future. Carbon nanotubes placed onto plastic are at 300 Mhz or the speed of a Intel Pentium 2.

"Looking through a completed lens, you would see what the display is generating superimposed on the world outside," said Babak Parviz, a UW assistant professor of electrical engineering. "This is a very small step toward that goal, but I think it's extremely promising."



Contact lens with electronics being worn by a rabbit in tests




A contact lens with electronics that are mostly outside the transparent field of view part of the eye

Applications for the contact lens displays:
Drivers or pilots could see a vehicle's speed projected onto the windshield. Video-game companies could use the contact lenses to completely immerse players in a virtual world without restricting their range of motion. And for communications, people on the go could surf the Internet on a midair virtual display screen that only they would be able to see.


A full-fledged display won't be available for a while, but a version that has a basic display with just a few pixels could be operational "fairly quickly," according to Parviz.

Future improvements will add wireless communication to and from the lens. The researchers hope to power the whole system using a combination of radio-frequency power and solar cells placed on the lens.


FURTHER READING
Previously head mounted displays were considered leading edge

Both head mounted displays and contact lens displays enable augmented reality.

A virtual retinal display (VRD), also known as a retinal scan display (RSD), is a new display technology that draws a raster display (like a television) directly onto the retina of the eye. The user sees what appears to be a conventional display floating in space in front of them.

Virtual retina display overview from the US navy


Virtual retina display graphic from Microvision

UPDATE:
This is a see through system. The see through systems for glasses have been commercialized (admittedly limited to military and some car applications) and would have similar issues of focus and comfort.



This 14page pdf discusses various aspects of these systems.

For heads up displays:
Refocusing the eyes can cause fatigue, so an aircraft’s heads up display is “focused at infinity” allowing the pilot to read the display without shifting focus. When used in automobiles, the display is focused closer, somewhere near the end of the hood. Motorcycle helmets also have a relative focal point for maximum comfort.

For virtual retina displays:
VRD has been commercialized in specialized sectors of the display market such as automobile repair and some parts of the military.

Microvision describes their see through display glasses, helmet mounted systems and other wearable displays.


See through display glasses

A 2 page brief on how see through displays on glasses work.

The claimed viewing experiences for see through displays (using glasses with built in displays. The image is perceived and designed to be sharp at a certain preceived distance:


Some references discussing how the virtual image perception works.
NASA discusses some of the virtual miage perception of see through systems

A University of Washington Master's thesis from 1995 discusses the perception of the virtual image for see through systems.

A lot of head mounted displays of various types are on the market

7 comments:

Tom Craver said...

Why wouldn't the display appear very much out of focus, just as much as anything you hold up very close to your eye? Maybe if it were generating tiny laser beams that target small groups of receptors on the retina...

Richard Kulisz said...

This is pointless. The entry would be much more fruitful if it recalled that 3D systems induce stress headaches and other problems. I'm trying to remember exactly what all the problems are but not having much luck. Whatever, in order for any such system to be anything more than vapourware, you have to show that it doesn't fall afoul of all the problems that killed previous systems. And you can't do that by ignoring those problems.

Stephen Luttrell said...

I have the same problem with this as Tom Craver above. The display pixels are not in the focal plane (i.e. the retina) of the eye so you would not see whatever the pixels themselves were displaying. But you could use the pixels (if there were enough of them) to make a computer generated hologram that would create whatever you wanted in the focal plane. Maybe that's what is going on, but that's not the way it was described.

bw said...

This is a see through system. The see through systems for glasses have been commercialized (admittedly limited to military and some car applications) and would have similar issues of focus and comfort.

This 14page pdf discusses varisou aspecs of these systems.

For heads up displays:
Refocusing the eyes can cause fatigue, so an aircraft’s heads up display is “focused at infinity” allowing the pilot to read the display without shifting focus. When used in automobiles, the display is focused closer, somewhere near the end of the hood. Motorcycle helmets also have a relative focal point for maximum comfort.

For virtual retina displays:
VRD has been commercialized in specialized sectors of the display market such as automobile repair and some parts of the military.

bw said...

microvision is a company with a $145 million valuation
MVIS on Nasdaq

kurt9 said...

If they can make this, why can't they make contact lenses with dynamic focusing in order to deal with this presbyopia crap? It seems to me that this would be a much simpler and more popular option.

bw said...

there are treatments (surgical and different lens and lens strategies) for presbyopia I am not sure if dynamic focus would be superior to these current and near term options.

Monovision with contact lenses

With monovision, you wear one contact lens with one power to correct distance vision and the other contact lens with one power to correct near vision. The distance vision lens is usually worn in your dominant eye.

The downside of monovision is that each eye works more or less alone rather than "binocularly," meaning in concert with each other. The result:

You may have to adjust your head position more often to see clearly. You also may lose some depth perception.

One way eyecare professionals deal with presbyopia is by producing monovision. Normally, both your eyes work together equally when you look at an object, to produce what's called binocular vision. However, you probably have a dominant eye that your brain tends to favor for "sighting" (most right-handed people are right-eye dominant, for example). Contact lens fitters often take advantage of this "one-eye dominance" to produce monovision (think of it as the opposite of binocular vision) with the contacts: they fit one eye for distance vision (typically the dominant eye) and one for near vision.

Currently in FDA clinical trials, the ACI 7000 (AcuFocus and Bausch & Lomb) is a corneal inlay inserted just below your eye's surface to provide vision correction. This device corrects presbyopia by using principles similar to the aperture or opening through which light enters a camera — the smaller the aperture, the greater the range of what you see in focus.

Different zones in a multifocal artificial lens correct vision at near, intermediate, and far ranges. In an investigational procedure known as multifocal or presby LASIK, zones are established in a similar way on the eye's clear front surface (cornea) to correct presbyopia. Multifocal LASIK, also called presby LASIK, is an investigational procedure, which is not FDA-approved