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US military to enhance soldier vision with dual-focus contacts

by Alistair Lowe on 13 April 2012, 10:56

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Taking us one step closer to the dream of the perfect real-life HUD, the US DoD has signed a contract with Washington-based firm Innovega for development and testing of its dual-focus contact lenses.

The new tech makes it possible to project a HUD onto the centre of each lens, whilst keeping it in-focus regardless of where the wearer is looking.

Dual-focus lens

If you consider the current paradigm, a solider with a head-mounted, monitor-based, HUD must continuously focus into near-distance in order to read information on their display, increasing eye strain and momentarily ignoring elements of their surroundings. When a gamer logs on to play an FPS, the HUD can easily be viewed simultaneously whilst gaming, as the focal distance remains the same, creating the ideal experience. To gain an appreciation of the difference, one can play an FPS in 3D, where the HUD sits at a different focal point to the game environment, something which this writer finds quite disorienting; it's this exact issue that Innovega is looking to solve with its dual-focus lens design.


Aside from the obvious gains of an always in-focus HUD, another, secondary gain could be the use of lighter gear as a heavy LCD would not need to be present, with small micro-projectors as an appropriate alternative. Whilst the technology is currently being pushed forward by the military, there's hope that it could help to enhance consumer experiences like Augmented Reality; is anyone else thinking Google's 'Project Glass' right now? The tech. is expected to exit clinical trials and be ready for consumer use sometime in 2014.

There are some concerns that the technology could lead to motion sickness, based on feedback from a similar treatment in post-surgery cataract patients and so, it'll be interesting to see if Innovega's solution can offer an experience that we can all enjoy.

HEXUS Forums :: 12 Comments

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Why don't they just integrate the tech with combat glasses? Soldiers need eye protection from flying shrapnel anyway.
Why don't they just integrate the tech with combat glasses? Soldiers need eye protection from flying shrapnel anyway.

If they put it in contacts, they can all have eyes which look like the US flag :D
These would make a nice alternative to those google glasses that were demo'd the other day…
Make master chief style helmets with a built in sensors and hud. Only slightly more expensive than a normal kevlar helmet plus the glasses and contact-lens system! And are less likely to get lost than the soldiers contact lenses in the field! If one of these falls out during operations, you arent going to want to put a muddy piece of plastic in your eye.
hmm i would quite like these HUD with text messages, emails, GPS oh what the future holds!