Innovega’s new iOptik system uses special contact lenses paired with special glasses complete with mini projectors to give you the head-up display of a Google Glass in a slightly more socially acceptable form factor. Because the iOptik system uses contact lenses and glasses instead of the single piece of glass like Google’s wearable, it also has the added benefit of displaying more content at once.
Where Google Glass can only show one thing at a time in its tiny display, iOptik can show multiple items at once, pushing them to your peripheral vision. Of course, the system will also let users see just one window at once if they show choose. One of the press images for iOptik shows a total of five windows in the heads-up display, but it’s not clear if that’s aspirational or something that’s plausible with the current system.
Innovega first showed off iOptik on a mannequin head at CES 2013, and this year the company’s employees will be walking around with prototype iOptik devices. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way for others to check out the heads-up display due to the use on contact lenses.
There are a few things iOptik currently lacks that Google Glass touts as features. Things like a camera, accelerometer, audio, and touch control. The version of iOptik that comes to market may have those features, however. Innovega doesn’t plan on releasing iOptik itself. Instead it hopes to license the technology to other companies so they can brand and market their own heads-up displays.
Those other companies will also be responsible for creating app stores for the device, if they decide they want to offer an app store. Right now iOptik will sync with Android smartphones.
Innovega will submit its contact lenses for the iOptik system to the Food and Drug Administration by late 2014 or early 2015. The FDA approval is a necessary step for any contact lenses, and the company insists the process won’t take long because contact lenses are so common.
This sort of augmented reality seems like it could potentially give Google Glass some stiff competition, if the right company picks it up. Would you consider using an iOptick heads-up display over Google Glass?