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Your retina is the screen!

I remember long time ago sitting by a lab bench at the University of Washington in Seattle wearing a bulking device that was beaming a laser on my retina painting on it a page of written text. I remember how impressed I was in being able to read “without” glasses.

Technology has progressed enormously and therefore I am not surprised to see that a company, Avegant, has gone on Kickstarter to get funding for producing Glyph, a wearable headset that embeds two projectors to paint images on your two retinas.

They are embedding in a glasses-like device, see photo, a low power color LED that is reflected by 2 million micro mirrors (per each eye) directly on the retina creating a high definition image (2 million is the number of “pixel resolution” you have in HD TV). Notice that the mirrors create a sort of virtual retina beamer, they are not a screen that is being watched by the eye, as it happens in other head on displays (like the Google glass). This means that even if you are short-sighted you will still have a perfect vision!

Avegant has requested funding to start production and its aim for a 250,000$ has been met and exceeded (they got over 850,000$ in the first 20 days on Kickstarter). The plan is to hit the market in time for Christmas 2014 with a target price of 499$ (significantly lower than the expected price of Google glass).  They are foreseen a use for watching movies and playing games. However, they have also opened up the software to let third parties develop applications.

Would this be a real game changer, as Avegant CEO is claiming, in the realm of immersive reality or will it remain just another gadget for a few "aficionados"? To me it looks more like the latter, I cannot imagine myself wearing this thing; but I do realise that I am an old guy, and I remember my grandmother saying that there was no use for a washing machine, and my mother saying there was no use for a dishwasher… and yet, I couldn’t live without them!

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. He's currently Head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital, co-chair of the Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative of IEEE-FDC. Until Aprile 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books. He writes a daily blog,  http://sites.ieee.org/futuredirections/category/blog/, with commentary on innovation in various technology and market areas.