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Retinal-Scanning Screen Prototypes 193

Troed writes: "Microvision demonstrated a prototype display that uses three leds and a mirror to display SVGA graphics from something small enough to be put into cellphones." Not a lot of technical details, but what's there looks good. It'll be a few years at best before the prototypes turn into real products, and I'm not quite sure I want to beta test this one, but I sure can't wait for when they are ready for prime time.
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Retinal-Scanning Screen Prototypes

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  • Now I can finally throw away that huge, clunky flat LCD that's hogging up my desk.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The real gem of this technology is that it will eventually lead to full heads-up augmented reality computing.

      Imagine walking down a street or park, and projected out in front of you is all types of interactive data about whats going on. You could be hiking, and with the assistance of GPS and this retinal display, a live top map could be projected over your field of vision, giving you great insight and clues as to where you are going. Better still, such GIS information such as water, underground pipes, etc would be available for full viewing just as if you had x-ray vision.

      For doctors, full 3D PET/CAT scan data could be overlayed in vivid detail right on top of the patient as the doctor operates. The doctor could see in complete detail exactly what she was doing as she made the incision.

      I don't know about you but MicroVision Technologies is a stock I'm going to buy, they are going to be huge.
  • Now we'll not only hear about cell phones causing brain cancer, now the press will be warning us that we could put our eyes out.

    • Now we'll not only hear about cell phones causing brain cancer, now the press will be warning us that we could put our eyes out.

      Not until someone actually DOES and sues the manufacturer for millions of dollars. Remember McDonalds and the lawsuit that required them to put "Warning! Coffee is extremely hot! Drink with caution!" on their coffee cups?

      • by Cruciform ( 42896 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:03PM (#2996195) Homepage
        Heh, maybe we need to put warning stickers on consumers as well. If the person fails a few basic tests, they get a sticker that says "Warning, this consumer is extremely stupid. Do not sell any sharp, hard, pointy, hot, cold or easily swallowed items to this individual."
        or maybe "Warning, this individual litigates over own stupidity. Symptoms include rash of complaints, with persistent ambulance chasers."
        • Heh, maybe we need to put warning stickers on consumers as well

          Check out comedian Bill Engvall's [billengvall.com] album "Here's Your Sign", where he makes that very point.

          If we gave all the stupid people signs that said "I'm stupid" then we'd know better than to deal with them.
        • The thing that irritates me about frivilous lawsuits, is not only that they exist, but that lawsuits and lawyers have such a tainted name that if you do have a valid cause because a company does to some to harm you, it's looked down upon to sue.

          I remember years ago, I sat down and there was the TV show 'Wings' on. The characters were suing someone or something, and they have the comic-relief-foreigner say, "You have to sue! It's the american way!"

          What we need is if you are suing somebody because of your own stupidity, not only will the case be dismissed but you lose the right to future lawsuits even if it's valid or not. Or maybe penalize the lawyers for it too, if they represent in a lawsuit based upon the stupidity of the person or party then they get disbarred or something.

          Yes, this is now off-topic. This just seemed more worthwhile than responding to the article which is pretty much, "ooh flashy things!" and doesn't require much conversation.
      • >>Not until someone actually DOES and sues the manufacturer for millions of dollars. Remember McDonalds and the lawsuit that required them to put "Warning! Coffee is extremely hot! Drink with caution!" on their coffee cups?

        Do you remember that the woman got third degree burns, needed skin grafts, spent a couple weeks in intensive care and offered to settle for ~$20K in hospital fees?

        Do you remember that McDonald's rebuffed that offer?

        Do you remember McDonald's having received hundreds of complaints in the past about the coffee temperature?

        Do you remember that after losing the trial, McDonald's lowered the coffee temperature to something consumable by human beings?

        Or do you only remember how the media characterized the case?
        • Not until someone actually DOES and sues the manufacturer for millions of dollars. Remember McDonalds and the lawsuit that required them to put "Warning! Coffee is extremely hot! Drink with caution!" on their coffee cups?

          Do you remember that the woman got third degree burns, needed skin grafts, spent a couple weeks in intensive care and offered to settle for ~$20K in hospital fees?

          If she hadn't been a moron, she wouldn't have put herself in a situation where all that medical treatment was necessary. Coffee is hot; a hot liquid spilled on clothing that you're wearing is generally a Bad Thing. Most reasonable people would conclude from these facts that coffee should be handled carefully so that you don't spill it on yourself. In a car, it'd be a good idea to keep it in a cupholder when you're not drinking it, not between your legs where the cup can tip over or be crushed. This isn't exactly rocket science, folks.

          If stupidity were fatal, it would cut back drastically on so-called "overpopulation"...

          • You're obviously of superior intelligence.

            There. Is that what you wanted? A little external confirmation.

            The world would be a better place if everyone were as smart as you. You've never done anything so stupid in your life. Wow, gee, I wish there were more people like you.

            Happy yet? I could go on if you really need it.

        • Do you remember that the person got coffee at a drive thru window and put it between their legs?

          Tip: Don't drink coffee and drive. You might think your Mario Andretti, but there's already enough distracted dummies on the road.

          Tip2: Don't put hot water between your legs.
    • I don't think ya'll read the article. The light is emitted by three LEDs driven by a (presumably) portable power source (battery), probably not bright enough to cause any sort of eye damage. You must have been thinking about lasers or something...
      • I read it :) But that's why I mentioned the media blowing it out of proportion quickly enough. Just like West Nile Virus... Kills 3 people in North America and it's on the front page of every newspaper. Never mind that it's rare, not as fatal as a lot of other contagions, etc.

        Personally I like the idea of having a cell phone or a PDA that would let me check my messages, and then hold it up to my eye to view the attached screenshots or presentation someone sent me.

        Just not while I'm coming home at rush hour. :)
  • Major usability issue here, if you have to hold the thing right in front of your eye to view it. Cell phones are dangerous enough with people holding them to their ears, can you imagine the pileups if folks started holding them in front of one eye while driving.

    Seems to me this would be more applicable to VR goggles, or head's up displays.

    • easy solution. don't use it while driving. unless its a hud of some sort it doesn't need to be between you and the road.
    • Seems to me this would be more applicable to VR goggles, or head's up displays.

      What a coincidence, those devices seem to make up the rest of Microvision [mvis.com]'s product line.

      Once they figured out how to scan the mirror fast and accurately enough, there are all sorts of uses. Bummer, most of them seem to be out of my price range for at least the next year, probably three.

      You can tell it's not ready for primetime, the Spectrum color display system [mvis.com] has a two pound piece that mounts on your head, tethered to a 40 pound box. I want one anyway.

    • I looked at their web page (link topic post) and it seems that this is a device that straps to your head and a screen ends up in front of your eye. The screen does not interupt vision, but draws on top of what your eye is seeing. This indeed is a wearable head up display, and could be used for everything from driving to finding a needle in a haystack. One way to make this interesting technology useless is to mount it into a device that is not attached to your head. Like a toaster. Or a cell phone.

      it would be interesting to see if this technology could work in reverse as well. Read the information from the retina that the eye is seeing, and then access usefull and pertinant information. For instance, you are looking at the night stars, and the computer locates and displays an astronomy chart over them, helping you to find and name constellations.

      • Or, just where to hit someone so that you'll kill them.

        Perhaps a biofeedback mood-scanning system that prints out suggestions for terrible things to say in arguments?
      • The only problem with the projecting would be the fact that the system is designed for transmittion into the eye rather than reception from the eye. I'm quite willing to assume that the protype was designed to minimize weight and power consumption and is not capable of receiving information like that. But it'd sure be cool - a definately worth the added weight if they integrated some additional technology to allow the device to read where your attention was.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:56PM (#2996144)
    that read that and saw "Macrovision" instead of "Microvision?" For a minute, I thought I was going to have to submit to a retinal scan to watch fair use disabled tapes and DVDs!


  • by Anonymous Coward
    MVIS stock price drops on news that another infeasible and unwanted technology was developed by the company.

    "Why would anyone want to look like a dork holding a cell phone in front of their face to read their computer screen?" asked one attendee of the press conference.

    "We will be able to produce hundreds of thousands of units every year!" claimed Microvision's CEO.

    Skeptics remain skeptical, though, with no evidence that wearable computing ever taking off. "This is just another gimmick technology," said another attendee, "if I was really interested in computing, I'd carry a laptop or palm-sized computer. I certainly wouldn't hold a cell phone in front of my face. How would I type?"

    Microvision is the leader in cell phone-based retinal scanning screens.
  • Nice for Cell phones, but it sure seems like this has some massive applications for any portable type of computer. With the size of laptops coming down each year, I would imagine being able to, in effect, get rid of the display could REALLY reduce them. Imagine having a 1 ghz machine, large about of storage (IBM micro-drives come to mind), and a tiny display you can "peek" into, that would fit in your pocket. Or having a notebook size display on a Pilot. Very cool...
    • Or having a notebook size display on a Pilot
      Yeah... that would be so cool.

      (What the heck?!?!?)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Retinal scanning is when you read the retina, not when you present things for the retina to scan.

    • The term "retinal scanning display" comes from the fact that the beam (from lasers or LEDs) "scans" across your retina much like electron guns scan aross the back of a CRT. Not exactly the same, the good enough for an analogy.
  • by TheMatt ( 541854 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:00PM (#2996174) Homepage Journal
    Okay, I can see this as a new type of Glasstron like system for portable DVD players (has to be cheaper than the 8" LCD on current ones). But in no way should this be in a cell phone. I can barely walk and talk on one of those, but walk, talk, and view a movie, I'd hurt people. In a car, I'd be a moving traffic violation.

    One other question, what about those of us with glasses, can the system work around that, or will I have to start wearing a monocle like Mr. Peanut?
    • One other question, what about those of us with glasses, can the system work around that, or will I have to start wearing a monocle like Mr. Peanut?

      If the marketing sketches of the optic path accurately show the geometry of the system, you'd be able to see in focus without your glasses. (But your iris would have to be in the correct spot, i.e. you're looking in the right direction, or the image will disappear.)

      The focus issue occurs because the light from a given real-world "pixel" arrives as a wide, essentially colimated (rays essentially parallel) beam, and your lens has to focus the light hitting it all over its surface down to a point, or a very small patch, on the retina. If your lens is less than perfect or not currently adjusted correctly, light from one real-world pixel striking different parts of it arrive at different spots on the retina, rather than all at one spot, defocusing the image.

      Most displays illuminate the whole retina with a broad beam, allowing you to move your eye or head about and still see the image, but requiring your lens or lens-plus-glasses system to focus properly. This system MAY hit your eye with a narrow beam, which would reduce or eliminate the need for the lens to focus accurately.

      But it would also require your eye to be in exactly the right spot, within the size of your pupil as viewed through your eye's lens. Eye motion would make you lose the image. So I suspect the display actually spreads out the light on its way to your eye, and you'd still need the glasses.
  • by Suicyco ( 88284 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:01PM (#2996181) Homepage

    Anyone remember the advertising in Diamond Age where images were broadcast directly into the eyes of passersby on the street? I can imagine this on a scale where these are placed in strategic locations in supermarkets, on the street, heck even the freeway. Scary, that you could have images directly placed onto your retina that are beyond your control (other then closing your eyes) Talk about mucking with reality, but then there's a whole new market for special sun glasses that reflect this kind of bombardment... Oakley Ad Blockers!
    • Actually, one of the people mentioned (when Stephenson was going on about this technology) killed himself BECAUSE the ads were present even when he closed his eyes.
    • How's that different from how things work now? The lasers would need LOS to your retina for this to work, and if they have LOS to your retina, then you would still be able to see a bilboard placed in the same spot.

      I guess they might be able to make the ad look BIGGER then they could otherwise.

      • It could also be 3 dimensional and would only be limited to your entire current line of sight. A tiny laser tracking your eyes on a billboard could make it appear that a car is about to smash into you via your peripheral vision, or put something 2 feet in front of you when the laser is actually 100 yards away. It could place a person walking towards you that would be indistinguishable from the real thing. That is much more then a 2d billboard could ever do. And much more intrusive.

  • Now you can just superimpose a cute face and slender figure instead of having to drink one into place! Think of the cost savings!

    - Freed

  • and I'm not quite sure I want to beta test this one,

    That's like saying you don't want to test a View Master 3D toy because you're afraid they might have put a search-light-power light bulb inside.

    Do you really think they're putting a 1 watt laser in this thing?

    • Do you really think they're putting a 1 watt laser in this thing?

      From a press release six months from now:

      "Well, the main thing preventing us from mass-deployment at this point is the large holes being burned through the skulls of our beta testers. We hope to have this problem resolved soon...

      This release may contain forward-looking statements and other such bullshit..."
    • Power isn't the only thing that can damage or cause discomfort, eye strain, headaches, seizures, etc. Research and even a few things that made it to mass-consumption have shown that rapidly flashing or rythmically scanning a "safe" (read: low-power) light can be dangerous. Additional dangers are possible in a stereoscopic scenario, where you can present fields that cause the eyes to converge or diverge on a target too much. (And this is under pure software control!) If you watched the strobing-eye robots in Japan or were a developer for the Nintendo Virtual Boy, you'll know what I'm talking about!

      My point is that burning away the retinal surface isn't the only thing to be concerned about.
    • Do you really think they're putting a 1 watt laser in this thing?

      Doesn't matter if it's a laser or a diode, one watt or one milliwatt. If it's bright enough to paint a visible picture it's bright enough to fry the spot that's illuminated if the scanning stops with the beam on.

      So they'll need a safety interlock of some sort to cut off or dim the light source if the scanning stops, or make the amount of light emitted dependent on the actual motion of the mirror, unless they can guarantee that the scanning failure modes all deflect the light away from the eye.
  • by Renraku ( 518261 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:06PM (#2996209) Homepage
    Any kind of light ultimately damages the eye. Some types do more damage than others. Lasers, notorious for being high power and having the ability to easily blind people have gotten a bad rep. Low-power lasers do very little harm, probably less harm than a few minutes outdoors on a bright Winter day. I believe they are doing this now, or will be starting to, paint images on the retina directly using a laser for flight and other types of training.
    • > Any kind of light ultimately damages the eye.

      As far as I can tell, that's not actually correct. UV and the bluer light frequencies cause damage, but provided the intensity isn't too high the lower frequencies cause no known damage.

      In this case there is no reason the intensity would be sufficient to cause any damage.
    • Renraku emitted:

      Any kind of light ultimately damages the eye

      So what are we to do? Apparently we must keep our eyes tightly shut, from birth, except in complete darkness. Otherwise the light will damage them!
  • Now... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If I could just get this sewn in my eyeball, along with the IBM Microdrive inside my armpit, and the firewire port on my ass,...

    I guess I'd need a driver.
  • I remember reading about a system virtually identical to this several years ago(maybe the same company, even). I was big into VR then, and I thought that this would be a hell of a way to create an immersive system.

    • This is the same company. Their long-term goal is to be the premier provider for displays for virtual and especially augmented reality systems.
    • It's the same company... the company came out U of Washington's HIT Lab... unfortunately the company is (or was) a scam... they negotiated an exclusive licens for the tech from the HIT Lab, IPOed, and then the founders both sold all of their stock and took off, basically leaving a promising idea tied up in a hollow shell of a company...

      The problem is that the technology requires incredibly small, precise optics that move at high speed... this can be done, but they have yet to produce anything durable enough for consumer use...

  • I thought it said three LEADS and a mirror. That would have been impressive.
  • Now what i'd like to see is this technology applied to creating a cheap display for consumer devices. I used to design consumer products (cordless, not cell, phones) and we were very interested in adding advanced features, but the cost of the LCD was always prohibitive.

    What about increasing the intensity of the LEDs (Laser diodes perhaps?) and scanning a small portion of the wall adjacent to the device. Most people (the the US anyway) have fairly smooth, white walls. The only drawback would be getting it bright enough to be seen in a light room.

  • by technomancerX ( 86975 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:13PM (#2996242) Homepage
    Microvision puts out a press release roughly once per year AND NEVER RELEASES ANY DAMN PRODUCTS. They've been working on making this technology work since ~1993 and still have nothing to show for it. It's vapor, move along.
  • Reminds me of the "Jeffrey's" Sketch with P. Brosnan - Will Farrel whips out his email pager -
    He wears it on his finger, and it is the size of a matchbox. To read it he needs to put on magnifiying glasses and move the screen from side to side.

    Really the only funny part of the sketch.
  • This sounds cool, and Im glad someone is on this track, in 20 years people will be sayign (as they do with TV) , 'People used to think this would hurt their eyes' , like my mom used to say about the TV.

    I always love the sci-fi flicks where they have something like this on a thin stick near their eye, walking around in a dark smokey ship hold. a good slap upside the head and , ouch. no more eye.

    Or the IBM commercial....same thing.

    Im not so worried about the reitanl scanning effects, lasers(no not the little led jobbers), arcs, you name it and Ive looked at it. I can still see, I may have had vison problems for a day or so after some of the incidents but it healed(I know I understand some dont).

    What Im WORRIED about is having something the size of a frigging pencil 1 inch from my eye, that sounds scarrier than potential retinal damage.
  • when can i log into the Metaverse?

    (from Snowcrash for those who do not know the reference)
  • Just dont forget to turn on the screen saver, I would hate to have to look at a negitave of the same web page for the rest of my life.
  • Microvision [oriole.net] was the first hand held video game system with cartridges.

    Oh, wait - that's a different Microvision :-)
  • While this may be a killer app, it certainly won't be for cell phones. I see the main market for this to be the replacement of active matrix notebook displays. If they can get the resolution to 1024x768, you can take that fold-up keyboard for palms and mix them with a small computer brick. The brick stays inside the bag and uses a possible wireless connection to the headset and keyboard. You could also replace desktop displays with this thing. Use some kind of shield to black out room light and you'll have a very emmersive heads up display. Wearable computers as well, maybe that's the cell phone angle. This reminds me of that ST:TNG episode where everyone was getting high on that head-moutned video game. Cool stuff.
  • Here in DC we just had several highway fatalities because someone was talking on her cell phone and crossed the median into the path of a minivan.

    Obviously the answer is to use a phone that urges you to hold it in front of your face for even greater distraction.

    Very bad idea.
  • Hackers will now be able to write malicious code to flash bright white light into the users eyes and blind them.
  • At last! Pr0n on the morning train commute and no one will know... well, as long as I keep my coat on my lap anyway.
  • by Twister002 ( 537605 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:29PM (#2996329) Homepage

    Most nearsightedness [allaboutvision.com] and farsightedness [allaboutvision.com] is caused by the eye, and consequently the retina, not being in the correct shape.The image is formed either too far ahead or behind the retina.

    I read the article but I didn't see any mention of how the beam would project on malformed retinas. If you are farsighted and you use this Microvision system, will the image appear to be deformed as well? Will it look like you are sitting too close to the movie theater screen?

    • Here's a thought; this sort of thing could replace current eye exam methodologies, or at least supplement them.

      Rather then asking a series of binary questions, "Is this... or this... better?", give the examinee some control over the process and do things like "Twist this knob until the line is in focus."

      Where this could become really useful is in the more exotically deformed eyes... 'normal' near-/far-sightedness is identified plenty well by current methodologies, but imagine someone with spherical distortion being able to fiddle with the knobs until they see things correctly, and letting the computer figure out what the settings are. Or perhaps "Make this line so it doesn't curve."

      One could theorectically do some of this with just a screen, but this technology might allow better control over precise focus and other similar precise controls that might make this significantly better then current practice.

      I'm not an optamologist, just a nerd rambling, so perhaps this is already being looked into.
    • Most nearsightedness [allaboutvision.com] and farsightedness [allaboutvision.com] is caused by the eye, and consequently the retina, not being in the correct shape.The image is formed either too far ahead or behind the retina.

      I read the article but I didn't see any mention of how the beam would project on malformed retinas.

      As long as the rays from the scanner converge on one point near the surface of your eye, this problem should be greatly reduced.

      Take an old-fashioned camera, and set the aperture to something wide (low F number). Then play with the focus. Focus has to be very finely adjusted.

      Now set the aperture to something narrow (high F number). Much more of the scene looks sharp - imaging is less sensitive to focus.

      I'm told that retina-scanning projectors produce much the same effect (haven't tried one myself, unfortunately).
  • OLD Technology... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by X86Daddy ( 446356 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:34PM (#2996348) Journal
    ...well, when it comes to this arena anyway.

    MIT's 'borgs [mit.edu] have been using prototype retinal scanning displays from various companies that have offered them for at least half a decade.

    Back around '97 I was really interested in wearables, but the availability of this type of display was always a problem, and all the suppliers that the MIT crew had listed no longer sold the devices (and they were only selling them as dev-kits anyway)

    Read up on MIT's "Lizzy." The most popular display back then was a single LED (red) scanning display, with 320x240 resolution, but it was the same exact technology.
  • What happens if I sneeze? What if I develop pick-eye? What if my contact pops out since I didn't blink?
  • Your eye is a simple camera. The cornea-and-lens assembly on the front has the job of mapping incoming angle of light to particular positions on your retina. That's how you distinguish the angle of incoming light. To generate an image on your retina, you have to change the angle at which light is incident on your eye (provided that the eye is focused properly). Since light travels in straight lines, the only way to do that is to have it arrive from different places outside your eye.

    Their little scanning laser thingie can scan a beam across your eye, sure, but if your eye is focused properly the position of the final spot on your retina is independent of where the beam comes into your eye. If the spot position depended on which part of your pupil the beam passed through, then your eye wouldn't be in focus -- normally light from a given object (like the screen you're staring at now) comes through all parts of your pupil simultaneously, so the sharpness of what you see depends critically on your lens getting the job done right. So it doesn't matter how they scan their little mirror-and-laser gismo, they aren't scanning the bright spot on your retina -- they're just shining a blinkenlight at your eye.

    And, yes, this argument applies to the cool gizmos in Diamond Age, too. They just don't work.

    Now, if you defocus your eye, deliberately NOT looking at the projector gizmo, the system might be able to work. Try it now: hold your thumb right in front of your eye. (Take off your glasses if you have to.) The edge of your thumb looks fuzzy, right? That's because light from the edge of your thumb is passing through several parts of your pupil, and your lens is NOT set correctly to focus that light onto your retina: light from different parts of the pupil hits the retina in different places.

    That opens up a nice little loophole: if you deliberately defocus your eye, then the Microvision gizmo could conceivably use that defocus to map position on your pupil to position on the image, and project a nice image on your retina directly. That works in principle, but in practice is neither small nor cheap: they'd have to have some kind of machine vision to track your pupil, at the very least, and that kind of stuff is still expensive.

    I wonder if that site is one of those FTC trolls?

    • Sorry, but ... what the hell are you talking about?

      Viewmasters, camera viewfinders, LCD goggles, and dozens of other devices project an image onto your eye from a small distance in front of it. The image is sharp and in focus, and in fact your eye focuses on it as if it were actually a certain distance away from your face.

      If your objects held any water at all, *none* of these devices would be possible. Are you suggesting that 21st century optics technology is incapable of making light enter your eyeball at the right angle?
      • No, no, those devices all work on a different principle. They send light into your eye as (more-or-less) collimated beams!

        Take your simple Viewmaster. Holding a viewmaster slide right up against your eye illuminates different parts of your pupil with different bits of image -- light passes from the sun or the room lights or whatever through the slide and onto your eye, so there's a little image of the slide projected onto your pupil. What do you see? A blurry mess.

        Now stick the Viewmaster slide into the viewer. Lenses in the viewer convert the positional information on the slide into angular information that your eye can process. What do you see? A nice picture of a dinosaur, or whatever.

        The point is that the image can only be as big as the apparent size of the lens in the viewmaster. These guys have lots of graphics showing tiny lenses projecting into your eye from far away. That can't work the way that they say. The lens has to be able to get "at" all the different angles coming out of your eye.

        It seems to me that they have a sort of (but not very) interesting technology and they're hyping it as the Next Big Thing. But the Big Thinginess comes from applications that are physically impossible. You don't need a laser diode and a scanning mirror to make a ViewMaster work, and there are very nice VR goggles and such that use conventional (if small) LCD displays.

  • So, apart from pairing the retinal scan with some kind of changable secret (say a password, etc), what happens when someone compromises the 'electronic version' of your retina? You can't really change your retina. Same goes for other biometrics.
  • Once they get this tech small enough, it sounds perfect for creating head mounted displays approaching an ordinary pair of sunglasses.

    This could be an important step towards wearable computing [google.com]!

  • The research (Score:2, Informative)

    by echoSpades ( 152920 )
    Since there seem to be a ton of unthought-out posts on this I thought I'd lend some words. Although it's at the risk of only skimming most of the posts as I don't have the time.

    The research for this, or at least the bulk of it, is being done at the University of Washington in the Human Interface Technology Lab (HITL). I've been to a presentation by the guy who heads the project and it actually is pretty cool. I first heard about it long ago. Another post said Microvision started talking about it in 1993 and I think that's about when I first heard about it. There's a large chunk of funding coming from the military, of course, and they'll have the first crack at it if not already. Also, Microvision had either a small prototype or a simulation of one at a job fair that I attend in the last year and it was pretty dang sweet I have to say. The prototypes that are at the UW (yes, they have in fact built them) use diode lasers in stead of LEDs. Truly, the diode lasers are fine as they put far less light in your eye than ambient light does but LEDs are more public-masses friendly. Anyway, the UW page for this is hitl.washington.edu/research/vrd/ [washington.edu]. They've probably got more technical details than Microvision does.

  • by k'Silas ( 558482 )
    I'll repost this, since the "anonymous coward" stuff tends to get ignored. This particular prototype was a full color cell phone demonstrator. It may be somewhat inconvienent to hold a phone up to your face, but you have to admit that a 21" virtual display might be nice... Of course resolution needs to be increased, of course it will be a year or two before you see the cell phone product. However, we do have a SVGA heads up product that began shipping this year. It is a monocrome red see through display that is bright enough to use in full sunlight. It's basically the same thing that the main chick was wearing in the begining of Final Fantasy (sprits within). It is being targeted for things like medical (surgury) and aircraft repair where you want to be looking at what you're working on while also having some data in your field of view (heart rate, schematics, whatever). It's a little spendy at the momment, so we aren't going for the general market, but you could do it in a binoccular setup to get 3D rendering or whatever. And I know you all probably will dissagree, but for an augmented reality display, you really only want monochrome anyhow. Full color images would block your view of the world and reduce functionality. Of course, we have a variety of full color prototypes. The goal is mobile computing, and anything else you can think of where you want a big bright display that doesn't take up any space. Ford, among others, is looking at using the technology in cars for in dash displays etc. Some of it is described at our web site, www.mvis.com. It works. It's cool. Don't knock it...
  • where Riker brings back a head mounted thing from Risa (sp?) that projects an image right into your eyes. They called it "just a game", but it wound up enslaving the entire ship.

    One of the few (if not the only) Wesley episodes I thought was good, and he got a hot girl to boot. ;-)

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.