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Intel smart glasses laser information directly onto the eye

28/02/2018By Matthew Woodley • Staff Journalist
Computing and technology multinational Intel has released a preview of its first ‘smart glasses’ venture, which will use a laser to project information directly onto the eye ball.

The glasses, referred to internally as Superlite but commercially known as the Vaunt, come with custom designed software and features that are designed to be as minimally intrusive as possible.

According to analysts from online tech website The Verge, given the glasses are designed to appear and be used in much the same way as traditional spectacles, optometry clinics could become a major sales channel for the new concept.

Intel’s technology uses an extremely low powered, vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser that inserts text or an image directly into the user’s eyesight from a specific angle, which is otherwise invisible. 

“We use a holographic grading embedded into the lens to reflect the correct wavelengths back to your eye. The image is called retinal projection, so the image is actually ‘painted’ into the back of your retina,” project leader Mr Jerry Bautista told The Verge.

The glasses weigh only around 50 grams and, compared with previous attempts such as Google Glass, have the appearance of regular spectacles. The projection device is installed along the arm of the glasses to hide it from plain sight, while the lens also appears relatively untouched.

One of the unique features of the prototype is that it eliminates the need for the wearer to focus on the projected image, since it is already set in complete focus on the eye’s surface.

According to a report in Bloomberg, developers expect the device to be marketed within the year. However, sources have said Intel plans to sell a majority stake in its augmented reality business, which has been internally valued at US$350 million (AU$442 million).

The Vaunt is not Intel’s first foray into augmented reality – the company purchased and then closed an augmented reality goggles business in 2015 – and it will also likely have competition from the likes of Apple and Amazon, which are also developing their own smart glasses.

Meanwhile, Alphabet has refocused Google Glass on business customers, after an unsuccessful attempt to sell to consumers. Goldman Sachs has estimated the market for augmented and virtual reality hardware could be worth as much as US$110 billion (AU$138.9 b) by 2025, with another US$72 billion (AU$57.03 b) in software revenue.

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