The Pentagon has placed an order for a prototype augmented reality display system that is based on dual focus contact lenses with an expanded field of vision. The system, called iOptik and developed by Innovega, allows the wearer to focus on a HUD at the same time as the surrounding environment by projecting an image onto different sections of the lens. HUD information goes through to the center of the pupil, and light from the wearer's peripheral vision is filtered out to avoid interference. The US military already uses HUDs on the battlefield, but they require bulky equipment and the wearer must actively focus on the information displayed. However, iOptik uses a lightweight eyewear system that doesn't look entirely dissimilar to what Google has proposed with Project Glass, and Innovega claims significant performance benefits over traditional HUDs.
Speaking to the BBC, Innovega CEO Steve Willey said that the Pentagon contract will allow the company to start prototyping and evolving potential uses for iOptik, with eventual consumer applications such as 3D movies, gaming, and Project Glass-style augmented reality eyewear being proposed. Willey says that iOptik lets you do "something that humans don't usually do," and following the recent 3D "revolution" we're not entirely sure that's a good thing. Still, the recent surge of interest in this kind of technology is certainly an intriguing development.