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Displays Graphics

Where Are Your Contact Lens Displays? 152

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the we'll-use-them-as-huds-in-our-flying-cars dept.
destinyland writes "'We already see a future in which the humble contact lens becomes a real platform, like the iPhone is today,' argues researcher Babak Parvis, 'with lots of developers contributing their ideas and inventions.' He provides an update on the contact lens with transparent circuitry that's being developed at the University of Washington. (Its components will eventually include hundreds of LEDs which form images in front of the eye such as charts and photographs). They've already developed a lens-with-LED prototype that's powered by 330 microwatts of wireless radio-frequency power, and believe the lenses could also be used as biosensors to deliver body chemistry readings (including blood sugar levels). But 'What we've done so far barely hints at what will soon be possible with this technology,' says Dr. Parviz."
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Where Are Your Contact Lens Displays?

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  • by Rhaban (987410) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @09:06AM (#30225436)

    If I displayed a fullscreen hi-res photo of someone's eye on such a lens, would it pass retina scan?

  • Focus? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @09:15AM (#30225518)

    It strikes me that the real trick isn't putting a display on the lens of the eye, but getting a focussed image. I mean, you could write a crisp, clear letter on someone's eyeball right now, but they wouldn't be able to see it. It'd just be a smudge on their vision. That still leaves you open to using a flash of colour in different directions to attract the wearer's attention to hazards, or other blurry ways of presenting information, mind you. I think the real key will be putting MEMS-directed lasers in there which can draw on the retina, bypassing focussing entirely.

  • by danhuby (759002) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @09:47AM (#30225820) Homepage

    I'm not sure it would be that obvious. Apparently Deanna Troi wore black contacts for all of TNG (as did other betazoids) and I can't say I noticed.

  • I don't have contacts, but from what i understand, they center on your cornea and move with your eye, right?

    How would someone "look around" on a screen with contacts? Wouldn't the center of the screen always be what you're looking at, drastically minimizing what you can read and properly make out?
  • by ThreeGigs (239452) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @10:09AM (#30226074)

    Aside from the inconvenience, I haven't seen the health issues addressed. Mainly, what happens to the human eye when it's not only insulated by a contact lens, but also heated by the 330 microwatts needed to power these things?

  • by Pulse_Instance (698417) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @10:36AM (#30226388)
    I like to imagine that drivers in North America are so horrible because of the hideously low level of skill needed to obtain a driving license along with the relatively affordable fines for things. If there were real mandatory training classes along with harsh punishments for driving unsafely I think that the level of driving would improve a lot. It is unlikely to happen with cars as seen currently but if they were to start a system like that for flying cars when invented they could change the culture of drivers then.
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @11:08AM (#30226828)

    I like to imagine that drivers in North America are so horrible because of the hideously low level of skill needed to obtain a driving license along with the relatively affordable fines for things. If there were real mandatory training classes along with harsh punishments for driving unsafely I think that the level of driving would improve a lot. It is unlikely to happen with cars as seen currently but if they were to start a system like that for flying cars when invented they could change the culture of drivers then.

    I would like to agree with driver licensing. But cops only stop for "speed" 90% of the time, when speed limits are already artificially low in most places to the point that you get bored driving. I see people not using turn signals all the time, communicating their intentions to other drivers, yet they never get a ticket.

    I hope with the flying car, it would be computer controlled only. I don't think the general populace is ready to handle flying without crashing into other people's homes on a constant basis. Besides, it's much easier for AI to navigate the air path than a road.

  • How do you focus? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by imkonen (580619) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @11:27AM (#30227054)
    Doesn't a contact lens sit closer to a human eye than anyone could ever actually focus their eyes on? In fact doesn't it sit on the focusing element? I guess the retina is different from the lens, but they are not very far apart IIRC, and can probably be considered one optic. IANAO (O = opthamologist) as you can tell, but I know a thing or two about optics. You cannot just display an image (either by absorption of the backlight or emission from tiny LEDS) onto an imaging lens (human or mechanical) that looks like what you want to display the way you can with a HUD or a computer monitor. What you percieve as spatially separated regions in your view map to different angles of incidence of light rays impinging on your lens. Each "pixel" in your eye (or literal pixel in a camera) collects light passing through all regions of the lens, but only at one angle. So to create a 256x256 display on a contact image that appeared in focus, the lens would have to emit light over a controllable grid of 256x256 angles.

    I don't know that the technology is theoretically impossible, but I think articles like this usually gloss over this not at all minor technical difficulty. Transparent circuitry is much easier because of this same phenomenon. If you cover up 50% of the area of a contact lens with completely opaque circuitry, you won't see the circuits in your vision, you'll just see a reduced intensity as if you were wearing sunglasses, because the circuitry will be so out of focus it will appear uniform. If your circuitry is only covering 10% of the area, you probably won't even notice the difference.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @11:51AM (#30227334) Homepage Journal

    The reason for the surgery was that I was prescribed steroids for an eye infection, and the steroids caused a cataract. Having the nearsightedness and farsightedness cured was a side effect of the cataract surgery.

    The old implants won't let you focus, you still need reading glasses with them. My insurance would have paid 100% of the cost of the old fashioned implants, I had to pay an extra $1k for the CrystaLens implants. Best money I ever spent. I wouldn't have been able to afford the implants without the cataract; insurance wouldn't have covered any of it.

  • Re:Focus? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xupere (1680472) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @12:56PM (#30228176)
    I'm curious if/how they'll overcome the fact that the display (contact) now moves with your eye. A computer monitor is stationary and your eyes dart around the screen focusing on a small portion at a time, the rest being varying degrees of peripheral vision. Are there going to be tiny MEMS gyros/accelerometers to detect the movement of the eye and shift the display image accordingly? Otherwise I'd think you could only (usefully) see the part of the display closest to the central focal point.
  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:31PM (#30228604)
    Let's take a step back from the idea of contact lens displays to the lower-tech idea of wearable Head Mounted Displays. Where are they? It's been 20 or more years since the promise of Virtual Reality and yet I still can't go into the average computer store and by some VR goggles. You can buy them on-line of course but frankly they are awful. Most of them have low resolution and a field of view equivalent to a 14 inch monitor on your desk (cunningly advertised as being equivalent to 70 inch screen at 10 feet).

    Field of view is really the most important thing for an immersive experience, not the 3D aspect. Imagine the impressive view you would get looking out from the top of a mountain. There is no useful 3D information in the scene since everything is too far away, but it certainly wouldn't feel fake despite the lack of 3D. If you look at the same mountain view through a tiny window though, suddenly you are now longer "there", and it just becomes a picture of a mountain view. That's the dire experience you get from today's narrow field of view. Even the super expensive HMDs that cost as much as a house do not provide a normal human field of view.

    I think the problem is that there is no real drive to bring virtual reality to the consumer market. Companies are far too comfortable making games designed to be played on a low field of view window on the world that never moves. If one of the major console makers pushed the idea of VR, it might change things. I won't hold my breath though. I've been waiting 20 years for VR and there is just no will there to go with the idea despite all the technical advances we have made.
  • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @01:31PM (#30228614)

    In a similar vein, I take the opposite view of corrective lenses ; I actually wear glasses that are the inverse of those an optician would prescribe. I noticed that my distance vision gets worse when I read screens and paper for long hours, so reasoning that this was the source of the problem I bought a pair of cheap pharmacy +1.0 reading glasses to wear while I work. This moves the apparent focal point of my screens further away and results in less deterioration of my distance vision.

    The optician wanted to give me glasses to correct my distance vision. This wouldn't have made my problem any better and would probably eventually help it get worse. Of course, an optician has no incentive to reduce your need for glasses.

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