Augmented reality contact lenses compete with Google Glass at CES

by: Shawn IngramJanuary 7, 2014


Wearables are the theme of CES this year, and Innovega may have one of the most interesting wearables with a Google Glass competitor that uses contact lenses for a more immersive augmented reality.

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.

iOptik glassesInnovega 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?

  • Bomj
    • Nathan Powell

      the eye phone episode also? lol

      • Shark Bait

        Hahah its comming ahead of schedule!

        • anonymus

          do you read each and every article ?

          • Shark Bait

            I don’t think you understand

  • dogulas

    Google should partner with them ASAP. So many people would prefer the more subtle and normal look that contacts with regular looking glasses would provide.

  • Jayfeather787

    Looks awesome.

  • A googler

    It’s an amazing concept but does anyone know how they are powered as they are a bit vague on that surely there must be some kind of power source is it wireless or a micro capacitor???

    • n11

      There’s a little cable that extends out the back of the glasses, goes down your shirt and connects to a battery belt at your waist.


      • A googler

        That’s not too bad really no worse than an earphone cable I like the idea better than glass but unfortunately I can’t wear contacts I can see this tech being extended to watching tvs and monitors which are compatible with the contacts