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Displays Toys Hardware

Computer Monitor In Eyeglasses 109

Posted by kdawson
from the move-over-mister-gibson dept.
ozancakmakci writes "We have all seen science fiction ideals of computer displays concealed in eyeglasses. One of the earlier spectacle-based designs was created by David Bettinger and disclosed in US Patent 4,806,011. Advances in fabrication technologies are now allowing complicated surface profiles to be manufactured. Exploitation of a complicated surface profile leads to low element count designs. Researchers at the University of Central Florida, CREOL/College of Optics & Photonics have designed and fabricated a computer monitor in eyeglasses that uses sophisticated surface profiles to achieve a compact design. The current specifications include an 8mm exit pupil, 20-degree field of view, 15mm eye clearance, and a resolution of 1.5 arcminutes. Follow the link for two pictures of this latest prototype." Read on for some of the challenges in designing a workable eyeglasses-based display.
Regardless of market potential, there are several optical engineering challenges that need to be overcome before displays in eyeglasses become pervasive. From an optical engineering point of view, the design space is large enough and designers have to make choices. A good example of such a choice is choosing just the right field of view while maintaining high image quality and a large exit pupil. Exit pupil of an optical system is analogous to the windows at your home, the larger the windows, the easier it is to see the outside world. It has been challenging to design and fabricate a large field of view and a large exit pupil for an eyeglass based display.
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Computer Monitor In Eyeglasses

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  • seeing how reading books for extended periods of time will deteriorate your eye sight, since you are putting too much straign on your eyes by focusing so close, would using these things as your computer monitor be really feasable for more than a few minutes? I mean focusing your eyes so close seems like a big streign, is this thing even practical?
    • Re:utility? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @03:14PM (#17091436) Homepage
      No need to focus close. The physical distance doesn't matter. The optics can be designed to allow the user to focus at infinity.
      • by eMbry00s (952989)
        Which is good for people with good sight. I'm extremely near-sighted, though, and can't focus on infinity (farthest I can focus is ~6cm without glasses).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Peter La Casse (3992)

      I don't think "utility" is the right word. The utility is clear, if the challenges can be surmounted. Of course, eye strain is a concern for any display technology.

      I can even live with 640x480 resolution - just use a motion detector to scroll the view across a virtual desktop when I move my head.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jx100 (453615)

        I don't think "utility" is the right word. The utility is clear, if the challenges can be surmounted. Of course, eye strain is a concern for any display technology.

        I can even live with 640x480 resolution - just use a motion detector to scroll the view across a virtual desktop when I move my head.

        An even better idea: how about one that scrolls along with the motion of the eye? It'd be even less necessary motion, and possibly far more natural than moving one's head around.

    • I have always wondered about that. I wonder if they could calibrate the image to where they trick your eyes into focusing on the image which would only come into focus if your eyes attempted to focus on something a few feet away.
    • by kfg (145172)
      seeing how reading books for extended periods of time will deteriorate your eye sight, since you are putting too much straign on your eyes by focusing so close. . .

      Absolute nonsense. Stressing muscles makes them stronger in the long run and degredation of the lens and/or retina are aging effects having nothing to do with "strain."

      KFG
      • IANAO (I am not an optician) but as far as I know, the proper exercises can fortify your eyes and even ameliorate your vision.

        The biggest problem with reading (and computers, also) is CONTRAST.

        Black on white is awful on your eyes. A yellowish or brownish page with blue ink would do marvels for your extenuated sight. Black on White will just strain it more and more.

        • by kfg (145172)
          The biggest problem with reading (and computers, also) is CONTRAST.

          And the lack thereof. You want as much contrast as possible. The problem is BRIGHTNESS. Paper "works" by reflected light. Keep the light source moderate and black on white is just fine (but, yeah, with cream paper you'll reduce reflected light while maintaining decent contrast with black ink), but people tend to go the wrong way there. They have the idea that too little light is bad for their eyes when reading, but that's backwards from the
          • by valindar (838812)
            How about an LCD? Is that just as bad as staring at a CRT monitor? The light is shining from the the top and bottom down and up respectively, not towards you.

            I find it's a lot easier to read on my LCD than my CRT, but is that because of the extra clarity (I use a DVI connection, when I was using an analog one before my new video card it wasn't so good), or?
      • by ATMD (986401)
        This is true, but it's not a good thing.

        I'm short sighted because my eye muscles are too strong, and can't relax enough to focus the image of something more than a couple of metres away on my retina. I was told this by my optician.

        I imagine that long-sightedness in old age is, conversely, caused by the degradation of your eye muscles, resulting in them being too weak to focus on something nearby.
        • by kfg (145172)
          I was told this by my optician.

          Optician: specially trained professional (not a medical doctor or optometrist) who can fill prescriptions.

          KFG
          • by ATMD (986401)
            He may have been an optometrist - I wasn't aware of the distinction.

            He sounded like he knew what he was talking about though, and I can't think of any reason why he'd make something like that up.
            • by kfg (145172)
              I can't think of any reason why he'd make something like that up.

              He wasn't making it up. He was repeating it. Just as your pharamicist might tell you you caught a cold because you caught a chill; and you might well believe him, even though being a pharmacist doesn't make him any more expert in colds than yourself, because he's a medical authority figure.

              A more correct way of putting it would be to say that your muscles are exerting too much force. This may well be done by a weak muscle. Also a muscle's abil
        • by valindar (838812)
          I'm not saying that's incorrect, however the most common reason (except for old age) for being short or long-sighted is because the eye is too long/short, meaning that when you're focusing at the extreme, it's still not enough for it to land focused on the retina, the focus-point is either in front of or behind the retina.

          If I remember correctly, it coming about from old age is from the lens becoming inflexible through age, it can't be stretched by the muscles to the same extremes as it used to be able to,
          • by ATMD (986401)
            Our two explanations are not mutually exclusive - you're just coming at the problem from the other end. Muscle strength and eye length should be in sync. If they aren't, focussing problems occur:
            - With a constant muscle strength, there is an optimum eye length. An eye of a different length will have trouble focussing at certain distances.
            - With a constant eye length, there is an optimum muscle strength. An lens muscle of a different strength will have trouble focussing at certain distances.
    • Re:utility? (Score:4, Informative)

      by kimvette (919543) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @04:07PM (#17091900) Homepage Journal
      That is false.

      What WILL deteriorate your eyesight is always looking at something at a fixed distance, be it a book, monitor, etc. all day long without taking breaks, day after day, for many months. So, whether you're a software geek, an accountant, an attorney, or ($FOO) just look away from your work every little while. What I do a few times a day to exercise my eyes is look through the blinds by my desk, focus on the blinds, then focus on objects behind the blinds, and repeat a bunch of times.

      You can avoid weakening the muscles in your eyes by shifting focus to something distant. Look out the window across the street for example. Ever hear of the 'see clearly method?' I imagine they take this simple exercise (focus on something really, really close, then focus on something really distant. Repeat, rinse, wipe hands on pants) and turn it into an expensive "self help" video, but really, all that method is (probably) about is forcing your eyes to focus at the extremes to give the muscles a workout.
      • so on this screen (Score:4, Insightful)

        by way2trivial (601132) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @04:49PM (#17092230) Homepage Journal
        they could adjust focus of the display from near to far on a cycle, and get rid of the need to take a break visually...

      • Also, don't forget that light play an important part in deterioration.

        Well lit environment preserves the eyesight. Light using a good bright white light source when reading a book.

        In contrast, badly lit environment will favorise eyesight deterioration. Like a dimly lighted environment near the computer in a geek's basement. The geek tend to prefer low light (so the display is more visible), but this deteriorate his eyes faster.

        If the head-mounted display has a correct brightness and, as mentionned by other
        • by kimvette (919543)

          In contrast, badly lit environment will favorise eyesight deterioration. Like a dimly lighted environment near the computer in a geek's basement. The geek tend to prefer low light (so the display is more visible), but this deteriorate his eyes faster.

          Oh come on, hasn't this been proven false as well? I'm pretty sure it has. . . what DOES deteriorate your eyes is eyestrain. Just exercise your eyes (see my other post in this thread) and don't sit in front of the monitor for hours on end day after day without

      • Your cube has a window? Lucky. I'm stuck in the corner of an internal room. But I'm still a "valuable asset to the company!"
      • I thought illusion of distance could be achived by showing the left eye a slightly offset image to the right (or vice-versa). If the glasses could track your pupils could it not ensure that the screen was in a comfortable and appropirate virtual location?
  • I'll be happy if they could make a it so I could have glasses (even though I have 20/10 vision), that would allow me to see normally, and had a light opaque computer screen which would serve as a monitor. HUDs displays won't be good until that feature happens seamlessly I think.

    • by zopf (897522)
      Indeed. I think it would be great to have a screen with adjustable transparency embedded in the lenses. I'm sure that with current technology, we are near to such a feat.
    • by Hillbert (935900)
      If you've got 20/10 vision, you'd probably be disappointed with these. According to the article (and summary), the resolution is 1.5 arcminutes, which is equivalent to about 20/30 (or 6/9, for us metric-using folks), meaning your normal vision would be much clearer and detailed than what you're seeing coming from the virtual display.
      Although, if this is from a 640x480 VGA panel, I'm sure they could work in something of a little higher resolution in future prototypes....
  • by nietsch (112711) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @03:13PM (#17091424) Homepage Journal
    Since the submitter is the author of the article, I find it a bit upsetting that he does not show more links to information on his 'invention' or background written by others. Now it looks a bit like a bad egotrip.
    • by metlin (258108)
      I would agree with you, were it not for a conference publication [ucf.edu] that's on the website.

      Agreed, it's not a peer-reviewed journal publication, but the publication suggests that this idea is probably not vapourware.
      • by nietsch (112711)
        Yes I overlooked that one. There is more on his 'links' page, but that is a bit of a hodgepodge to me. If you submit your own article, at least you could acknowledge others work on the same subject. Citing your own paper again is just, well, egocentric. I wonder how many papers by himslef he cited in that paper?
        Also, is it just me or is there not much invention in his device?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ozancakmakci (1032202)
          I added a link to a review article that we wrote which includes several related inventions. Thank you for pointing that out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lord_Dweomer (648696)
      Agreed on the background. A good start on the history and the major players in this field can be found on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. In includes a nice timeline with pictures of the various forms the technology has evolved into over the years.

      One thing I didn't see on there and maybe a Slashdotter can help me...is the wearable unit created by one of the folks at the MIT Media Lab I believe. It was a tiny little laser that looked about the size of two watch batteries stacked together and it clipped to the top of a regula

    • by FrozenCat (462091)
      Given that article seems to imply that the device is function (ie the mention of specifications) where are the photos of the device in operation?
    • Maybe he can fix the pictures on the page. I was wondering why Firefox was pausing for 1-2 seconds and my CPU meter pegged at 100% when trying to scroll past the pictures. It turns out they're 3264x2176 full-sized JPEGs apparently straight from the camera, which the page dynamically resizes using the img width and height tags to fit your browser.

      Either Firefox's implementation of dynamic resizing needs to be tightened up, or (if resizing 3264x2176 images is not how these tags were supposed to be used) t

    • As you may or may not know, designing those kind of prototypes take a long time, and when completed, the end-product may result in a mentally-wrecked designer. So, ignoring the "behaviour" and commenting on the technical issues would probably be more on-target.
      • And I certainly don't care that much if he is mentally wrecked from designing his display. mental instability is something you can claim for the judge and if granted gets you undefunite loonie-bin time instead of jailtime. The rest of us try to judge anything by its merits, not the mental state of the creator.
        If you are a student you may make some mistakes in your time management, but if completing your studies makes it certain your mental state will suffer a lot, you and your uni are making some very serio
  • If there were more pictures, simulations, descriptions of applications already working on it. The amount of possible applications once the kinks are worked out is amazing, but the technology still seems far off.
  • Can I read Slashdot while walking through this mess of cables without falling down and taking half the room with me?
  • by TrdrJoe (856523) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @03:34PM (#17091632)
    ...at least in prototype form? http://www.media.mit.edu/wearables/lizzy/index.htm l [mit.edu] The article doesn't articulate how the new technology is different from previous projector-based systems.
    • by jdray (645332)
      I've often wondered (with essentially no knowledge of optics) whether or not a monitor reflection could be projected onto the end of a fiber optic strand, sent some distance, then re-expanded on the other end through a lens to form a HUD. You could put the heavy-lifting portions of image generation remote from the headset. Of course, the bandwidth of the fiber would have to be sufficient to transmit the stream, but that doesn't seem unreasonable.
      • by Khashishi (775369)
        Won't work. Each pixel would have to travel in a different mode along the fiber or they'd all be blurred together, and you control so many modes.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Won't work. Each pixel would have to travel in a different mode along the fiber or they'd all be blurred together, and you control so many modes.

          I disagree, but only in practice. You are right in your interpretation, that the grandparent post suggests imaging onto a single fiber. Imaging using a fiber bundle [polymicro.com] instead. This actually works and a two dimensional scene, imaged on to the front facet of a fiber bundle will have an additional image plane on the back facet of the bundle. The complication and im

  • I wonder... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PieSquared (867490) <isosceles2006NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday December 03, 2006 @03:46PM (#17091746)
    While watching a movie or something seems to be the most obvious use of this type of system, I think the most interesting uses would be those that involve leaving most of the screen clear at any given time. A HUD for a soldier, sure... or a little digital clock and mini forcast (like forcast fox) whenever you look up and to the right or something for a civilian. You could even use it to add a 3D picture of something to every day life, if you added a camera or a motion sensor... I just can't wait until someone makes a popup virus for one of these... hijack wireless or bluetooth connected to the device and an ad appears 10 feet in front of you every 5 minutes... that would be interesting, especially if such a device were required for some tracking system :P
    • As I'm sure some people would be wearing these while driving (and other things; that's the first to mind), I don't know that making pop-ups for glasses would be worth the potential lawsuits.
  • by Micklewhite (1031232) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @03:48PM (#17091756)
    These glasses would be quite useful for sky divers, they could see their altitude and current speed in their glasses as opposed to asking a mathematician after they land. Every time I've been sky diving the mathematician in the booth at the landing site charged nearly $100 just to tell me how fast I was going. Then once I brought along a calculator and started calculating my velocity right there. Then the mathematician got really pissed off and tried to take the calculator away from me. Then the other sky divers grabbed him and wrapped him up in a chute and rolled him into a near by river. I did all the calculations for the other sky divers for free.

    The trouble was after that the mathematician went and told the National Mathematicians Union about what I did. So the Union went to the Sky Divers Collective and told them if they kept up this 'bastard math' as they called it, they'd completely blacklist the entire skydiving community. This was a tough call on the part of the Collective, since they had something of a symbiotic relationship with the Mathematicians Union. Instead of trying to call the Union's bluff the Sky Divers Collective just blacklisted ME from ever sky diving again. I think that was a real kick in the teeth, since the conditions of the blacklist meant I wasn't even allowed to use a chute to save my own life.

    These computer monitor glasses would be a well deserved kick in the teeth for the National Mathematicians Union which I think has gotten a little too big for its britches. I imagine they'll probably be the biggest opponants of the computer glasses.
    • Brilliant!
    • by Builder (103701)
      All jokes aside, I really don't want to know how fast I'm going while I'm flying; I can happily wait until I'm on the ground to check my neptune and protrack for that info.

      How high I am would be nice, but even then I've got an alti on each wrist and an audible screaming in my ear at designated altitudes.
    • by Dark007 (832582)
      It would also be good in a modified form for scuba divers. Depth, temperature, ascent rate, gas, bottom time, among other instrumentation would be very useful in a HUD. Perhaps 3D mapping as well for navigation around dive sites. We were actually discussing this on holiday in Dahab. Currently, wrist mounted dive computers are used for this sort of thing.
  • Is there any word on when these might be avialable for general production?
  • by rubberpaw (202337) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @04:20PM (#17092010) Homepage Journal
    Head mounted displays have *not* been fiction. Steve Mann [wikipedia.org] has been building these things for decades. A number of commercial solutions, based on several generations of products exist. I count a total of 17 basic wearable display product lines at Tekgear, a distributor who focuses on wearable computing hardware [tekgear.ca]. This sort of thing is so common [soton.ac.uk] that an Open Source toolkit has been developed to deal with the real problems with these displays -- not the graphics display, but the user input. The ArToolkit [washington.edu] is an object-recognition system which allows easy, keyboard-less interaction with a computer mediated augmented reality display. It's rather far along.
  • I don't know if this could work, but what if you would build a "lens" with integrated LEDs. Each LED would have a another lens in front of it, projecting it's light onto a small spot of your retina. When the lenses and the LEDs are small enough you wouldn't notice them when looking throught.
  • Anyone else getting a probe on port 500 when visiting the article link?
  • by davidc (91400)
    ... Now I can look like Geordi LaForge!
  • Fighter pilots have been using devices of similar gist for many years. Now, I am not a professional in this field, but as far as I know this technology never found its way to the consumer world because it is notorious for giving the viewer a nasty headache when used too long. It is not clear if they figured this issue out; until they do, I refuse to be impressed. P.S. In case the people involved are actually reading it: did you ever try using it for more than 10 minutes straight?
    • by Gramie2 (411713)
      Kind of like the infamous eyeglasses handle that made people cross-eyed. Boy did the bastard who invented that get sued!
    • by ockegheim (808089)

      The only time I've seen an Imax 3D [wikipedia.org] film, using goggles that block one eye as alternate frames are displayed on the screen, I had a huge headache after the 45 minute featurette. It was very immersive though.


      • Imax 3D does not work by blocking one eye for alternate frames. It works through polarization. One frame is polarized vertically, the other at 90 degrees. The polarization in the glasses is 90 degrees apart for each eye. Next time you are watching an Imax 3D movie, try tilting your head and you will see the images diverge. This is also nice when watching the movie without glasses. The slight blur you see from the images being at two different locations (much more noticeable for objects that are suppo
  • As you can have the answers on your Eyeglasses
  • Appearance? (Score:3, Funny)

    by SeaFox (739806) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @05:49PM (#17092720)
  • From TFA:
    To our knowledge, this is the first display to achieve such specifications in the world. A U.S. Patent has been filed.
    ...and another promising technology is held back for 20+ years.
    • Multiple designs for reflective and direct retinal projection have been patened over the past 30 years. The one that comes to mind was the piezo scanned led retinal projector. It was going to be available real soon. That was at least 15 years ago and hasn't been seen since. This is just another "patent and wait" for the money and a nice example of modern optics. I wouldn't hold your breath.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @09:56PM (#17094558) Homepage
    Thad Starner and his team that was researching Wearable computing at MIT had them a LOOOONG time ago. Thad is currently sporing some today that are near impossible to detect.

    Nothing new here but someone patenting something that has so much prior art that taking the patent down will be incredibly easy.

    • by tecnopa (931480)
      Dont you mean Georgia Tech? Ive seen Thad sporting those ever evolving glasses around campus many times over the last five years :-P
      • by Lumpy (12016)
        Thad started his work at MIT before he went there. Him and Prof Steve Mann are the fathers of Wearable computing and have had glasses monitor displays for years now.. Prof Mann had a sunglasses unit that was undetectable that you were wearing one over 10 years ago.

        Really cool stuff.
  • I still want one when it's commercially available. Especially when it's integrated into a device the size/power of our average PocketPC PDA.
  • I read / skimmed through the comments as much as possible so if someone already mentioned this I apologize. I remember reading an article (I think last year) about oLEDs in SciAM and how sheets of them could be produced to be used as displays (for cell phones/computers/other) which would be transparent when no current was running through them. Not exactly sure where this technology is at these days but I would think that they could be made into practically any shape (to accomodate the many different style
  • Wow - a story on something that has been around for 30 years and commercially available for at least the last ten. When it doesn't make you look like Jordi from Star Trek (or the borg), I might consider dropping some cash on it, or gracing it with the presence of my head.
  • Great, now everyone can watch porn while driving.

    What could possibly go wrong?
  • To make talking on the cell phone while driving look comparably safe. Imagine a driver with a pair of these... You've got mail = 5-car pileup.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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