DARPA to Test Dual-Focus Contact Lenses that Offer Superman Vision

By Alexandra Burlacu | Apr 16, 2012 10:49 PM EDT

Share This Story

  • Print
  • Email

The Pentagon has ordered a special type of contact lenses that provide a much wide field of vision, reported the BBC. The prototype lenses also allow users to simultaneously focus on a specific image and on their environment. The lenses are reportedly designed to work with head-up display (HUD) units, i.e. glasses with images projected onto their lenses. According to the product's Web page, the field of view would be up to 120 degrees.

Follow us

The U.S. Army and Air Force are already using much bulkier HUDs to superimpose data over users' views, but this new technology could significantly enhance troops' awareness on the battlefield.

The prototype contact lenses are called iOptik, and were developed by Washington-based firm Innovega.

Innovega had signed a contract to deliver a fully-functional prototype to the Pentagon's DARPA research laboratory, the developer told the BBC. The project has previously received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense. "The new contract gives us an immediate opportunity to start prototyping and demonstrating elements of this new system," Innovega's Chief Executive Steve Willey told the BBC.

Dual Focus - How it Works

Normally, the human eye cannot focus on more than one image at a specific distance at the same time. The prototype lenses, however, promise to overcome that hurdle by allowing two images at variable distances to be viewed at the same time. While the projected image will go through the retina display, the background image will still be visible to the user.

The lenses have two different filters, which allow the user to focus on two things at the same time - both the data superimposed onto the glasses' lenses and the more distant surroundings that can be seen through the lenses. The central part of each lens is designed to send light from the HUD towards the middle of the pupil. Meanwhile, the outer part sends light from the surrounding environment to the pupil's rim. This means that the retina receives each image in focus and at the same time.

"Normally, for example, with a camera you focus on something distant or something close - but you focus on a particular spot," explained Willey. "By wearing our contact lens you automatically have this multi-focus, or dual-focus, and you are doing something that humans don't usually do."

The lenses are currently still under FDA scrutiny, undergoing various clinical trials as part of the approval process. Innovega's plan is to eventually license its technology to various display and contact lens manufacturers, and Willey said the tech should be available to the public by 2014.

(reported by Alexandra Burlacu, edited by Dave Clark)


Get the Most Popular Mobile&Apps Stories in a Weekly Newsletter

© 2013 Mobile & Apps All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Featured Video : Ericsson Announces World-Leading Launches Ahead of Mobile World Congress 2014

Join Our Conversation

Leaked image of the Amazon 3D smartphone in protective shell Amazon’s upcoming 3D smartphone leaks in first images, with more spec details
Google: All Glass spots claimed in Explorer Program after April 15 one-day sale following KitKat update
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. HTC One M8, LG Google Nexus 5 & iPhone 5S in drop, slide, and dunk tests (VIDEO)
Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview released – Get it now
Tablet / Laptop / PC
Dell Venue 7 and Venue 8Dell unveils Venue 7 and Venue 8 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean tablets
Retina iPad Mini facing delays, may not launch until early next year
Refurbished 128GB iPad with Retina Display now available on the Apple Online Store
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 – 2014 Edition: Pricing and availability now official
Amazon LogoAmazon reportedly to launch ‘Firetube’ set-top box before 2013 holidays
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear India launch: Pricing and availability
Samsung Galaxy Gear Android smartwatch now up for pre-order in Canada
Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 reportedly in the works already, may debut at CES or MWC 2014
OS / Software
HTC LogoHTC reportedly considering Android/Windows Phone dual-booting smartphone as Microsoft pushes for deeper Windows mobile integration
iOS 7 Chrome Incognito mode leaks private searches due to bug
Sprint HTC One Android 4.3 Jelly Bean already rolling out, AT&T, T-Mobile & Verizon to follow
Microsoft Windows 8.1 now available for pre-order
Internet / Social Media
Google DowntimeGoogle blacks out for two minutes, causes 40 percent drop in world’s Internet traffic
Xbox Music web player is live and ready for Xbox Music Pass subscribers
Facebook Android app collected phone numbers even if users never logged in
Firefox 22 brings support for web video calls, 3D gaming, and Unreal Engine 3
What's App
Adobe Lightroom MobileAdobe Lightroom mobile hits the iPad, coming soon to iPhones
Apple updates Mac iWork for iCloud suite – What’s new in Pages, Numbers and Keynote?
Microsoft launches Office for iPad, makes Office Mobile free on Android and iPhones
Twitter adds photo tagging, multiple photo sharing to iPhone and Android apps
Copyright © 2014 Mobile & Apps All rights reserved. mobilenapps