Let’s face it people, we have successfully reached that point that we envisioned as “the future” when we were kids. Sure we may not have flying cars, well, we do have planes and we have other nifty and “futuristic” things. The one item that has really blown me away lately is virtual eyewear. In spy and futuristic war movies they always had some eye piece or contact lenses that gave them special information, and it’s the thing that makes me say “Wow! We truly live in an amazing time.” I for one both welcome and fear this change. Glasses that show you text messages? I’m cool with that. VR headpiece for gaming? Even better. Anything I have to put IN my eye? Nightmare fuel. Enough of my rant, let’s look at some of the technologies that will take our vision to the next level.
Google Glasses – I think Google’s marketing team is going to struggle making glasses seem cool to people who don’t already wear them, but the technology behind it is jaw dropping. The Google Glass project, network enabled computerized glasses, are shipping earlier next year to a set group of enthusiasts and eventually to the rest of us. The glasses will connect to your smartphone and display text messages and incoming calls (including video), allow you to take pictures, and display directions. All of this with the weight of normal sunglasses. With Google’s open market, the possibilities are endless. Google is on to something very unique and impressive, but we have yet to see if they will be affordable, or how the fashion community will react to them.
Oculus Rift – This is for the gamers out there. We all remember playing terrible virtual reality games at the arcade when we were kids. I always dreamed of playing great games like Doom 3 or other PC titles through a VR headset, but honestly, never thought it would happen in my lifetime. I am so happy to say I was wrong. Not only are they making a VR headpiece, they are making one that looks fantastic. With endorsements from John Carmack (creator of Doom), Gabe Newell (Founder of Valve), and Cliff Bleszinski (Former Director of Game Development for Epic Games), this product has to be all it’s talked up to be. Inventor Palmer Lucky used kickstarter to fund his design, making a shocking 2.4 million dollars. The Rift, unlike most VR headsets, will be consumer priced, somewhere around $300.
Megapixel Augmented-Reality Contact Lenses – What if you could see tiny objects without the need of additional optics? What if all you needed to do it was a contact lens? That’s what wearable display company Innovega is trying to create with their Megapixel Contact Lenses. Now not many people have tried these, but one reliable source has, DARPA. Innovega has developed a special contact lens for DARPA that allows “a wearer to view virtual and augmented reality images without the need for bulky apparatus and that allow users to focus on both far away objects and images placed very close to the eye.” DARPA’s goal is to eliminate the intelligence and surveillance gap at the soldier level. Equipping the regular soldiers with these devices would allow them to preform recon just as well as other units. This would prevent friendly fire, civilian casualties, and also make target spotting easier. But this also would have great uses in the civilian world. Imagine being able to have video feeds or data streamed directly to your lens? Or perhaps engineers would able to focus closer on a device without the assistance of optics? Just think of all the ways our lives could be made easier.
This is just the beginning for us, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.