These new high-tech contact lenses were developed by the Innovega Technology Manufacturing Lab, and they permit users to focus simultaneously on objects that are close up and far away, which could dramatically improve the ability to use tiny portable displays while still interacting with your real-world surroundings.
The iOptik lenses work thanks to a set of special polarizing filters, which separate high intensity light from ambient light, and a secondary internal magnifying lens, which focuses the light into a single, narrow beam. The light rays are transferred independently to the retina, allowing users to focus on far away and close visuals, in full field of view. These contacts allow you to easily view images on a tiny close-up display (such as on a pair of sunglasses) while at the same time viewing your surroundings without any focus difficulties. The contacts do away with the need for the bulky optics usually found in today’s head-mounted displays, and when a compatible display is not present, the contacts would provide normal vision.
Innovega is working with DARPA to create prototypes of these types of lenses and beta test them for the military. A consumer model should also be available within the next couple of years, priced similarly to regular contact lenses.
While we’re still a long way off from displays built into contact lenses themselves, this is a major step forward in improving the usability of portable displays.