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Pentagon Orders Dual-Focus Contact Lens Prototypes

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the wouldn't-they dept.

Displays 41

New submitter cb_is_cool writes "From the Beeb: 'The Pentagon has put in an order for prototype contact lenses that give users a much wider field of vision. The lenses are designed to be paired with compact heads up display units — glasses that allow images to be projected onto their lenses.' Hopefully, any mugger within 50 yards will have a red status bar above his head. 'The central part of each lens sends light from the HUD towards the middle of the pupil, while the outer part sends light from the surrounding environment to the pupil's rim. The retina receives each image in focus, at the same time."

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Can't wait for the civillian applications (3, Insightful)

ickleberry (864871) | about 2 years ago | (#39679051)

Download an app to give sex offenders a red status bar above their heads. Version 2.0 (beta) gives suspected social outcasts, as in people without Facebook accounts an orange status bar.

Re:Can't wait for the civillian applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39679081)

But first! Pron all day every day and nobody knows!

Re:Can't wait for the civillian applications (5, Funny)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#39679135)

I dont know about you, but If was watching pron all day on this, people would know!

Re:Can't wait for the civillian applications (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39679171)

Similar claims were made about adult diapers. Your facial expression will give it away.

Re:Can't wait for the civillian applications (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#39679163)

Muggers and rapists have iPhones, right? Apple knows where they all are, right? So this isn't really too far fetched...they just need to hook up with Facebook profiles and pretty soon you'll be able to see everybody's personality icon floating next to them.

Re:Can't wait for the civillian applications (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39679205)

Version 0.9 comes with advertising: wonder if that really is a push up bra? If that man got the best value for Viagra? If what you're looking at is not FCC or MAFIAA approved?

RIP Douglas Adams.

Re:Can't wait for the civillian applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39679403)

Theres a plugin that turns that status bar into a HP bar....

Re:Can't wait for the civillian applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39683841)

And what would you do with those red bars? Actively avoid these people? Mock them? Hit them? What right do you have to know the crime that someone has done the time for? And for what purpose? Your little children are going to be shipped off to a new neighborhood because there are sex offenders in yours? And what if the offender is someone who slept with their 16 year old girlfriend at 19, after having spent his senior year with her in high school? Same treatment? Now they're outcasts not just when moving to a new place, but every second of every day thanks to the sex offender status bar! Fan-tas-tic.

Re:Can't wait for the civillian applications (1)

jamiesan (715069) | about 2 years ago | (#39699909)

They are only red if they are much higher level than you are. Orange if they are slightly higher level, yellow if close to your level, green if lower level, and grey if much lower level.

Motion sickness (2)

Tancred (3904) | about 2 years ago | (#39679073)

As mentioned at the end of the article, I wonder about the motion sickness possible with this stuff. I remember the first time I got glasses, how unbalanced I felt and unsure if I was misjudging where I was walking.

Re:Motion sickness (2)

Scootin159 (557129) | about 2 years ago | (#39679161)

If you do get motion sickness (which is entire possible), it's also very likely to go away pretty soon. I get exactly the same feeling you describe anytime I get new glasses or contacts, but within an hour it's barely noticeable and by the next day you don't even realize it anymore.
As a regular contact lens user, I would appreciate some contacts that give you a wider field of view even just for daily wear

Re:Motion sickness (1)

Tancred (3904) | about 2 years ago | (#39679341)

That's a good point. For me it took several days the first time and maybe a couple days for any significant prescription change. I'm wondering though if the new technology won't be more troublesome for a couple reasons. First, they could make larger changes than glasses typically make. Second, if you aren't wearing the new contact lenses for most of your day, since they're not for vision correction, would we have a hard time adjusting back and forth?

Re:Motion sickness (2)

foobsr (693224) | about 2 years ago | (#39679427)

motion sickness

Of course, there will also be long term effects, though only (a selected) few will realize. Think along the lines of disturbed sensory integration, motion sickness being a first symptom which goes away. An example is the effect that the distortion caused by the frame has on visual feedback regarding body motions, which in the end leads to body region patterns that never really move, in turn causing bad posture etc. .


Re:Motion sickness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39687459)

I used to know somone who, when he wore glasses, wore bifocals. When he wore contacts, he wore one for close vision and one for distance visions. Why make them complicated? Left eye - one image superimposed, right eye - a different image.


NO THANK YOU. (4, Interesting)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 2 years ago | (#39679129)

Dual-focus lenses like do produce sharp images at multiple focal ranges (or, in this case, from multiple sources) -- but they also produce blurred images at every focal range. So, you see a sharp image, but with halos around bright objects, and no way to mask them out. If you have to look at a white-on-black display, or a glowing readout in the dark, you're in for a real treat.

We already know how to integrate optics so your HUD shows things at a neutral focal distance. With holographic optics, we ought to be able to make such optics lightweight and compact enough for anyone's tastes. So why "correct" the eye to super-nearsightedness?

This seems like a solution to the wrong problem.

Oblig. pedantic grammar nazi comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39680311)

I see you used "no thank you", but the accepted form is "DONOTWANT".

Just thought I would pass that along for your edification.


citizenr (871508) | about 2 years ago | (#39683767)

Dual-focus lenses like do produce sharp images at multiple focal ranges (or, in this case, from multiple sources) -- but they also produce blurred images at every focal range.

those are not dual-focus lenses, they are more of a dual-polarization lenses
the second close up focus only works when the light has a certain polarization


Karma Bandit (1305259) | about 2 years ago | (#39684029)

the second close up focus only works when the light has a certain polarization

Not entirely accurate. It would be better to say that the contacts always focus one polarization of light so you can see things close up and the other polarization normally. Normal light has both polarizations, so only one of the two will be correctly focused, the other will be incorrectly focused, causing a diffuse blur in your field of vision (in one eye.) So, 1/2 of the light in 1/2 of your eyes will be blurry. So, 1/4 of the data your brain gets will be blurry. Maybe this isn't such a problem?

Maybe you combine it with polarizing (aka polaroid) sunglasses, so that the outside world only had the correct polarization?


jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 2 years ago | (#39686399)

I don't see anything in the linked article about polarization. They seem to be proposing zone-based focus, just like existing dual-focus contacts.

If they are using polarization, it might help -- but at that point, you're also dimming external light significantly. This presents its own problems in night, twilight, or indoor combat.

Can we have some "informative" mod-points here? (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 2 years ago | (#39693081)

There's the info I was looking for -- thanks!

The first video does mention polarization, and gives a good visual demonstration. It apparently doesn't require a polarizing layer for "the rest of the world", just for the display, which knocks out my "dimming" objection. But I'm still seeing focus degradation that's noticeable even on top of YouTube's compression. I could see tolerating this for specialized short-term applications, but I still don't think I'd be happy with it on a long-term basis.

More to the point, though, I still don't see the advantage over corrected-focus projection systems. If you can arrange your projection system to make the virtual image appear at infinity -- and you can; this is already well-understood, well-established technology -- why on Earth would you force the user to wear a contact lens, especially one that degrades normal vision?

All kidding aside (2)

cb_is_cool (1084665) | about 2 years ago | (#39679245)

While it would be cool to highlight rapists and muggers with a red status bar, it would be really awesome if it could be tied into medical devices. Say you're a diabetic and you have a little device on your arm that constantly measures your blood sugar. Could help you maintain a more stable glucose level which has long-term health benefits. Or say you have a heart condition that leads to arrhythmias or PVC's? You could get a little readout that tells you that the alarming sensations you're feeling are ok within the baselines the device has set (or vice versa that you don't feel anything but that the device detects some serious abnormality). Something like a hitpoint meter that ACTUALLY shows some useful information regarding your medical condition.

Re:All kidding aside (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 2 years ago | (#39679439)

I think the hitpoint meter is just the beginning. Look at all the data we're used to seeing on our periphery in video games. Cash amount, inventory, contact lists, scrolling maps. Add to that the alerts we're used to seeing at the top of our smart phones for new emails, text messages, IMs, alarm settings, battery life. Roll all stuff up in a useful discreet package on our periphery and, while at first it will seem like information overload, we'll just get used to seeing it as background noise and wonder how we ever lived without it.

Re:All kidding aside (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#39679537)

For personal health information there is no need to pump that information into a HUD that then displays it on your contact lens, a simple readout on a watch or phone would do.

The visual cues mentioned in this short story though would be very easy to do and rather useful.

http://marshallbrain.com/manna7.htm [marshallbrain.com]

Re:All kidding aside (1)

mikael (484) | about 2 years ago | (#39679815)

There are already watches that measure heart rate and pressure. It would be good if they could combine everything into a single device.

Re:All kidding aside (1)

Ruie (30480) | about 2 years ago | (#39681285)

Most devices that measure heart rate require a strap on your chest as well.

Re:All kidding aside (1)

mikael (484) | about 2 years ago | (#39684773)

Theres an application for the Ssmsung galaxy that measures pulse speed using the flash light and the camera. But measuring blood pressure still requires an inflatable cuff.

Highlighting rapists and muggers... (2)

F69631 (2421974) | about 2 years ago | (#39683397)

Do you mean "Highlight people who've been convicted of such crimes before"? If we, as a society, want that kind of ability, surely we don't need that kind of technology. Let's just brand all criminals with hot iron or a tattoo into their forehead and make sure that someone checks every 5 years or so that they've not gone through plastic surgery or such.

Of course, we don't want to do that (and for good reasons) so I can't help but think "WTF?" whenever I hear people think that new technology will "enable" that (as if it wasn't already possible) and that it'd be somehow desirable...

(Of course, if you just mean "Highlight people who're hiding in a bush, for example", ignore this response)

No pics? (1)

robi5 (1261542) | about 2 years ago | (#39679557)

Such an inherently visual topic is not visualized in the article, shame.
Who cares how exactly the projector glasses look like.
What needs to be shown, is a pair of pictures: on the left, normal vision. On the right, how the same environment looks like with the new technique.

Dust? (2)

jcdenhartog (840940) | about 2 years ago | (#39679559)

Just out of curiosity, how is the soldier in the field supposed to deal with dust issues in contacts? Being a long-time wearer of contacts myself, and having experienced issues with wearing them in construction zones, I have a hard time seeing how these could be more of a liability in a combat arena.

Re:Dust? (1)

tibman (623933) | about 2 years ago | (#39680373)

In a desert environment, it is best to wear goggles. Glasses produce additional problems that contacts don't have. Permanent scratches (can't just visit a store and get them remade), getting knocked off your face, vibration and small impacts (think running or riding in a truck) causing small moments of visual inaccuracy. Contacts have their problems as well. The only problem i have had with them so far is after 12 hours your eyes get unhappy with them. By 24 hours your eyes hate them. So alternating between the two is probably the best solution.

No Forgivness (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39679655)

So every crime you've ever made (rightly or wrongly convicted because of a random person's/database's mistake or since you settled to avoid the possibility of jail time) will be visible to all at anytime they want to see. Remember, this will be useing real-time facial recognition and matching software; still very error prone for general use. No time to grow up, no second changes. You'll be labeled and perscuated for life, which will probabily be a shorter one as your only escape will be suicide. Being ignored/activly avoided constantly by everyone can really hurt a person.

You'll also get hotness and creepiness ratings, address and contact info, web history, age and weight estimate, past sighting locations (which will be a full recording of your travels once many people have these), etc...

It has already started with mobile phones. We will and actively are going down this path. I'm just hoping society grows up quickly within the next couple generations.

Seems similar to today's multi-focal IOL (4, Interesting)

slew (2918) | about 2 years ago | (#39679975)

FWIW: The standard IOL (inter-ocular lenses) that you get today if you have cataract surgery are generally of one focal length (mono-focal) and usually selected for far vision. Since IOLs are not attached to your squinting/focusing muscles so you pretty much need reading glasses to look at anything close up after you get them. However, there also exists today some multi-focal IOLs that seem like they work on a similar principle to the described contact lens.

FYI, the current generation of multi-focal IOLs have an inner region (focused to near-er objects) and one or more annulus regions (focusing on progressively farther objects). When the pupil is mostly closed (reading in bright light), you only see through the center of the lens allowing fairly clear near vision, but when your pupil is more dialated (when say outside, or in a dimly lit room) say you get images from one or more of the annulus regions which dominate the light received and are focused farther. It isn't a perfect solution as patients often initially see halos from the multi-focal parts, but apparently your brain apparently eventually learns to "filter" this out. There are better multi-focal IOLs in development (that allow for actual focus accommodation with eye muscles), but this is the common multi-focal case today.

With this scheme, it seems that the described contact lenses would have similar effect of the multi-focal IOL in its dialated pupil/far focus configuration except of course instead of part of the image originating from a near focus and thus blurry in the IOL case, would be replaced by a close distance Heads-up display and in clear focys on the retina. Seems like it might work just fine.

Of course with a contact lens like in the article, you can always take it off. With a multi-focal IOL, you are stuck with this all the time. On the other hand,100-of-thousands of folks have multi-focal IOLs for their cataract replacement and they voluntarily have this kind of stuff permanently sewn in their eyes, so there's no reason to think this won't just work.

The brain adapts well to visual-field changes (1)

bdwoolman (561635) | about 2 years ago | (#39680467)

Motion sickness and other problems will go away in days for most people. The famous upside-down glasses experiment proves how actively the brain interacts with the senses. The process is called perceptual adaptation. [wikipedia.org]

Public availability would be great if this tech matures. I would love to have better peripheral vision when I am behind the wheel. And a well-integrated HUD for GPS, and related apps, would enhance my personal reality. w00t!

correction to meaning of red bar (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#39685775)

the government could put a red bar above anyone it wishes to be treated as rapist, molester, paedophile.....huge difference there
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