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5 Jan, 2014 14:03

240" TV in a contact lens: Revolutionary eyewear rivaling Google Glass to be unveiled

240" TV in a contact lens: Revolutionary eyewear rivaling Google Glass to be unveiled

Google Glass has a rival: Nano-tech contact lenses that work with a pair of glasses and provide wearers with a virtual canvas on which any media can be viewed or application run, projected onto human eyes, are set to be unveiled in the US.

The high-tech contact lens is due to be previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week, becoming a rival to "wearable computing" Google Glass, the futuristic glasses that can shoot video or photos literally with a wink of an eye.

The platform, dubbed “iOptik,” is the brainchild of Washington-based group Innovega, whose breakthrough eyewear system is comprised of two key elements: flat-panels or micro-projectors that are integrated into eyeglasses that provide a gateway for any available media; and iOptik contact lenses that not only deliver a view of near-eye rich media, but given that one in two humans require some form of vision correction an improved view of the environment as well.

The contact lenses can be worn in the usual fashion, with or without the Innovega eyewear. When the eyeglasses, fitted with micro-projectors, are worn, any media can be instantly streamed onto a transparent lens, and the wearer's view of their surroundings is not hampered in any way. "The benefit of simultaneously offering vision correction is particularly important to Asian consumer segments where the prevalence of nearsightedness is near twice that of their non-Asian counterparts," Innovega co-founder and CEO Steve Willey said.

Photo from innovega-inc.com

The company has thus far been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and by an undisclosed Asian company, according to CNET.com. Willey explained that Innovega was founded to tackle the problem that has proved to discourage consumers across the world, namely that both the quality and quantity of digital media available from mobile devices often exceeds the capability of tiny mobile displays.

"Whatever runs on your smartphone would run on your eyewear," Willey told CNET. "At full HD. Whether it's a window or immersive."

According to Willey, the iOptik contact lens-based approach "has broken this bottleneck," delivering high-performance imagery from compact eyewear by eliminating all the usual magnifying optics from digital eyewear and integrating them into a nano-tech contact lens. The novel contact lens enhances vision and enables wearers to better visualize their digital world. It allows light from the display to pass through the center of the pupil, and light from the surrounding environment to pass through the outer portion of the pupil. Willey was quoted as saying that the contact lenses could generate displays with a screen size "equivalent to a 240-inch television, viewed at a distance of 10 feet."

Photo from innovega-inc.com

Right now, the iOptik system syncs with Android smartphones and, according to Willey, will be able to allow developers to design specific tools for any devices in which the iOptik system could be used.

Technology companies across the world have been fighting for a place in the wearable gadgets market, becoming a key growth area. However, when Google Glass was unveiled, many worried that should the device become widely used, privacy would be breached with the help of covert recording. A "Stop the Cyborgs” campaign has been launched in the US, designed "to stop a future in which privacy is impossible and where the iron cage of surveillance, calculation and control pervades every aspect of life."