The blogosphere has been cybersalivating over the potential debut of Google Glass supposedly to arrive in time for the Christmas holidays, 2013. As if the $1500 price tag is a reasonable price point for the Average Joe consumer? But aside from cost are glasses going to provide the Augmented Reality experience people are really looking for? Back in '09, my blog post, titled, "Augmented Reality Provides Terminator Eyesight!" talked about a professor at the University of Washington actually creating AR contact lenses called, "A Twinkle in the Eye." But today, much of their work appears to have been more speculation than reality.
This past January however, Innovega Inc., a developer of compact wearable HUD displays announced in Las Vegas at CES its prototype launch of a transparent mega-pixel eyewear called iOptik. When worn these contact lenses deliver a crisp view of both near-eye rich AR media alongside that of the environment. This allows for any accessible media to be instantly available and is overlaid onto or blended in with the environment. (note: for those who are unfamiliar with this technology, AR is an overlay of data, images, sound, GPS and other data points onto the real environment users are viewing).
An interesting benefit of the iOptik lenses is that they include the wearer’s prescription and therefore improve their normal view of their real-world surroundings. According to Innovega, "early adopters may be those with the lowest switching costs - more than one hundred million global consumers who already wear and enjoy contact lenses (as do more than 20% of North American 18 to 34 year-old consumers who drive demand for mobile and other media devices)."
IN tandem with Google Glass hyping their prospective launch, the reasons folks are so excited about this technology is that it solves a problem that's been a consumer frustration for a while now. Since the quality of digital media on mobile devices is now exceeding the performance of these conventional mobile displays, consumer have gravitated toward bigger displays, as evidenced by the purchase of ever-larger flat-panel televisions and computer monitors.
These trends support the belief that 'bigger is better' making the 'display size' a key driver of the user's experience and engagement. Contact lens, more so than glasses allow for the AR visual overlays to fill up one's total sight lines. Already sold on the idea is the U.S. Department of Defense who just signed a contract with Innovega to provide the military with the ability to focus on a heads-up display projected directly onto their eyeball with incoming data regarding near-by enemies and threats.
Innovega has taken into account the future of personal media, social networking, and mobile computing as well. They feel their product will not only meet today’s needs but also the demands of the future, with immersive 3D gaming and video, and of emerging high-performance AR which requires a see-through and panoramic wearable display interface.
By providing a transparent, fashionable, and comfortable interface that is consistent with today’s active lifestyles, the iOptik contact lens will eliminate the social barrier that traditional opaque eyewear might create. Innovega believes that its new personal display interface will become an essential social media and entertainment accessory, pushing the boundaries out to Web 3.0 and beyond. Will that leave Google Glass DOA (Dead on Arrival). Your thoughts readers?