Panoramic hi-res augmented reality glasses: most radical CES intro so far?

January 7, 2014 by Amara D. Angelica

Innovega Inc. is demonstrating at CES prototypes of what looks like the most radical augmented-reality eyewear yet.

Intrigued, I called Innovega CEO Steve Willey Monday night. He ran down the specs of their iOptik design: binocular 720 x 1280 pixels, 3D (depth) vision, and a humungous field of view of 90 degrees, as shown in the image above. That’s six times the number of pixels and 46 times the screen size of Google Glass using designs based on conventional optics, Willey claimed.

iOptic standard-issue Oakley-type sunglasses (credit: Innovega)

These specs seemed to me hard to believe. It would be almost like peering into anĀ Oculus Rift VR display (except for Rift’s superior forthcoming 1080p res and 110 degrees FOV), with its huge optics system, but also seeing through to the real world. Or like looking at a 240-inch diagonal TV set from ten feet away, as Willey claimed.

But then he explained the trick: a bifocal contact lens in each eye to replace the huge optics, reducing the focal length down to about 1/2 inch. (Microprojectors bounce images off sunglasses or clear glasses onto the contact lenses. More info here.)

Great for 3D movies, gaming (with 360 degrees), and augmented reality, for starters.

OK, got all that, but contact lenses? Really? Willey shot back with with stats: 100 millionĀ 18 to 34-year-old consumers already wear contact lenses worldwide (due to high incidence of vision myopia, with high penetration of wearers in countries like Singapore, HK, Korea and growing at a high rate in China) — the same people interested in gaming, smartphones, and media-rich content and apps.

So price? Availability? “My guess is two to three years, around $500 to start,” he said, explaining that they plan to license the technology to partner companies.