Virtual Retinal Displays Get All Geordi With It

A virtual display that paints a picture right on the retina of the eye was first mentioned in science fiction by Frederik Pohl in his 1952 novel The Space Merchants (see retinal projection). Scientists have been hard at work; the Human Interface Technology Laboratory is continuing work on virtual retinal displays - and building in a very Star Trek look while they're at it.


(From The Eyes Have It and ST:TNG)

Dr. Thomas Furness, director of the Human Interfaces Laboratory at the University of Washingon has seen Microvision license his technology for their Nomad Expert Technician System (see Microvision Laser Monocle: Technician Retina-Vision from Apr-29-04).

"The small screens and narrow fields of view of mobile devices don't work well with the human vision system," Furness says. "When we first started talking about VRD, the idea was to create a system that requires very little power but can be connected to a PDA or cell phone to deliver a wide field of view with high brightness. For mobile computing applications where you want to overlay digital information on top of what you see, you need the luminance to compete with the outside world."
The $4,000 Nomad system may be a bit steep for your average $19.95/month cell phone plan customer; and (what's worse) it only shows pictures in red. However, Dr. Furness is hard at work. He is exploring a way to simplify the VRD technology to bring costs down. By removing the mirror, and using a single fiber-optic strand pointed at the retina and bent rapidly back and forth, he hopes to get a cheaper device and full color.

Dr. Furness says "It would be like wearing an IMAX theater in a pair of eyeglasses.

We can't wait!

Read the starter article at The eyes have it. As far as I know, the earliest patents for systems like this were filed in the early 1990's; these quoted earlier word done in the 1970's. I don't see any references earlier than Fred Pohl's. Anybody?

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/30/2004)

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