There has been some rather interesting and revolutionary technology being released lately, and a good deal of it involves the human eye. First, there was the Google Glasses, then there were the VR contact lenses, and now the new EyeTap! This new technology, which is consistent with the whole 6th sense computing trend, uses the human eye as an actual display and camera… after a fashion.
Used in conjunction with a portable computer, the EyeTap combines the latest in display technology and Augmented Reality which allows for computer mediated interaction with their environment. This consists of the device taking in images of the surrounding area, and with the assistance of the computer, augment, diminish, or otherwise alter a user’s visual perception of what they see.
In addition, plans for the EyeTap include computer-generated displays so the user can also interface with the computer and do work while their AFK (Away From Keyboard, according to The Big Bang Theory). The figure below depicts the basic structure of the device and how it works.
Ambient light is taken in by the device just as a normal eye is, but are then reflected by the Diverter. These rays are then collected by a sensor (typically a CCD camera) while the computer processes the data. At this point, the Aremac display device (“camera” spelt backwards) redisplays the image as rays of light. These rays reflect again off the diverter, and are then collinear with the rays of light from the scene. The light which the viewer perceives is what is referred to as “Virtual Light”, which can either be altered or show the same image as before.
While the technology is still very much under development, it represents a major step forward in terms of personal computing, augmented reality, and virtual interfacing. And if this sort of technology can be permanently implanted to the human eye, it will also be a major leap for cybernetics.
Once again, Gibson must be getting royalties! His fourth novel, the first of the Bridge Trilogy, was named Virtual Light and featured a type of display glasses that relied on this very technology in order to project display images in the user’s visual field. Damn that man always seems to be on top of things!
And just for fun, here’s a clip from the recent Futurama episode featuring the new eyePhone. Hilarious, if I do so myself!