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DARPA-funded Innovega readies contact lens that mimic 240 inch display with augmented reality
Anyone who has ever dreamed up a sci-fi future in which neon interfaces float in front of us and information exists not on screens, but projected onto our eyes, is likely watching the blossoming wearable technology market with great anticipation. With its iOptik system, wearables startup Innovega has sighted in on that futuristic vision, designing special contact lenses that will read the light from projectors fitted to glasses. In doing so, it's inching closer to a product that may rival even Google in its wearable ambition.
Optical head-mounted displays, or devices that augment our vision either through full-blown glasses or fixed optics that float screens in our peripheral sight, have come to epitomize the cutting edge of wearable tech. One of the bigger hurdles now is that while the technology may be powerful, the form factor is still that of a goofy computer-glasses hybrid graphed onto our face, and not a single high-profile product has had a chance to test the murky waters of the mass market.
Google's Glass wearable has yet to exit its beta "Explorer Program" -- though prescription lenses appear to be on the way -- and still tends to freak people out and keep the critics testing it in the wild apprehensive of wearing it in public settings.
Innovega, which showcased its unique iOptik augmented reality (AR) device on the head of a mannequin at last year's CES, is confident that it's getting closer to something we'll actually want to wear, but with the unconventional caveat of contact lenses, an untested stipulation at the moment. The company, headed up by CEO Stephen Willey, will be back at CES 2014 next week, but this time with a fully functioning prototype. The device, a pair of sleek eyeglasses capable of overlaying digital media and transparent AR data onto the accompanying lenses, will be worn by Innovega staff on the floors of CES.
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