Augmented Reality Contacts Offer Consumers Enhanced Vision

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In the near future, consumers around the world could take a look at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and see a lot more than the White House.

Perhaps they'll skim through a drop-down list of every American President, or maybe they'll skim the most recent legislation signed by the President.

Pixels and Policy takes a look at a new report by CNET outlining a brave new world for augmented reality.

Terminator Vision

If a CNET article on the rise of augmented reality contact lenses is any indication, the future is coming sooner than we think.

Augmented reality contact lenses offer the possibility of viewing the world with an overlay of information – prices at a local restaurant, traffic patterns on a particular street – displayed in real-time and infinitely portable.

Read on to find out how these contact lenses are going to make your world a whole lot more interesting.

From CNET:

Even a lens with a single pixel could aid people with impaired hearing
or be incorporated as an indicator into computer games. With more
colors and resolution, the repertoire could be expanded to include
displaying text, translating speech into captions in real time, or
offering visual cues from a navigation system.

With basic image
processing and Internet access, a contact lens display could unlock
whole new worlds of visual information, unfettered by the constraints
of a physical display.

The business possibilities of augmented vision carried in contact lenses seems endless. As we wrote on Tuesday, information laid out over real objects eliminates the need for bulky and often confusing instruction manuals. Instructions may instead adapt virtually to a misstep of a harried builder.

Savvy diners could steer clear of eateries with a history of poor ratings, since the restaurant's average score might appear as an overlay on top of the front door. Busy consumers could glance at the Post Office and see how long they might expect to wait in line. Some handheld augmented vision devices do these things already – having this capability in your contact lens would streamline the process.

There are health hazards, CNET notes:

Red LEDs typically are made of toxic aluminum gallium arsenide. To make a lens safe, the toxins must be thoroughly enveloped in a biocompatible substance, which must never bleed.

This is an obstacle, but certainly not insurmountable, and it's no need to stop promising research on a game-changing new technology. Given time and focus, there is little doubt science can perfect a safe casing for LED's in the same way they developed safe housings for X-Rays. The important thing is to keep funding for these projects open.

What are your thoughts? Would you put an augmented vision contact in your eye? What do you think will come from this research?