The human eye has tremendous capabilities, but it is limited in its ability to focus on objects placed very near the eye. This inability to focus on near objects has lead traditional near-eye display developers to develop complex optical solutions that make the so-called near-to-eye image source appear to be located further away than it actually is and comparable to a typical television or small monitor. Innovega has developed an alternative display architecture that is based on enhancing the human eye’s normal vision capabilities. It improves sharpness of vision in one’s real-world while enabling the wearer to view extreme detail of objects placed very near to the eye and specifically at the usual distance between traditional eyewear and the eye. In this way the wearer is able to simultaneously focus on virtual content from the eyewear and on the entire spectrum of activities in the real-world. This new iOptik approach leverages the mature technology used by contact lens suppliers and eliminates the usual bulky optics that have previously been required in the design of video eyewear products.
The ability to focus the near-eye image is achieved by embedding optical elements inside the iOptik™ contact lens. These micro-components are so small that they do not interfere with the wearer’s normal vision.
The iOptik™ contact lens enhances vision and enables consumers to better visualize their digital world. It allows light from the display to pass through the center of the pupil, and light from the surrounding environment to pass through the outer portion of the pupil. Each of these sets of light rays produces an image on the retina simultaneously with the other set. They are superimposed to form a single integrated image.
Display light passes through the small central optic which, in combination with the eye’s normal optics, focuses the display light onto the retina. The display light that falls on the outer portion of the contact lens is blocked by the outer filter to prevent it from interfering with the view of the display.
Ambient light from the environment is able to pass through the outer filter. This light enters the pupil and is focused onto the retina. Almost half of all consumers benefit from a lens prescription so this is incorporated into the lens. Light from the environment that passes through the center focusing optic is first defocused and is then blocked by the center filter preventing this defocused light from interfering with the wearer’s normal view of the surroundings.
Innovega and its partners will give applications designers the opportunity to exploit consumers’ simultaneous and in-focus views of their surroundings and of virtual worlds. The Innovega Technology video below demonstrates how the iOptik contact lens properly focuses the ambient and distant scene but simultaneously creates a 2nd in-focus image from the flat-panel screen that is wrapped into the eyewear.