Microsoft Eyes Augmented Reality
In a move that makes eye color correction seem boring, Microsoft and the University of Washington have made major advances in bringing augmented reality to contact lenses. The augmented reality lens receives radio signals and transmits them via optical nerves directly to the brain. The process was successfully tested on a rabbit, and the research team has the go-ahead to begin human trials.
While augmented reality has thus far been treated as something of a fad by corporations not involved with video games or marketing, Microsoft insists that incorporating the technology into a lens will make it practical for multiple applications. Possible uses include using facial recognition technology to assist security and police forces, or a virtual desktop that retrieves and displays information in the blink of an eye.
The research team has even suggested that the augmented reality lenses might be used to treat blindness. Microsoft’s lenses don’t depend on vision to transfer information, they transmit it directly to the brain. Researchers theorize that the lenses could be used to stream an augmented reality feed to the brain allowing the blind to “see.”
Other obvious uses for augmented reality include virtual overlays of complex machinery, including color coding to make finding each part easier. The lenses could also act as a sort of virtual teleprompter to assist with speeches and presentations, or just to put up a couple of sticky note reminders. The lenses could, researchers believe, also be used in medicine as a non-invasive method of monitoring vital signs and even report blood sugar levels.
[We've] only begun to scratch the surface of the opportunities that exist with this type of platform. The most important challenge is really in the deep exploration of all the things not yet imagined with this platform, and new platforms enabled by this new-found capability to create other technology of this form.
– Desney Tan, Microsoft Research Connections.
Below you’ll find a video discussing some of the potential of this developing technology.