Bosch has designed smartglasses that work by directly project images onto your retina with laser arrays. While the glasses are still in the prototyping phase, and users must undergo custom fittings before they can work effectively, the early results are promising, and Bosch looks set to succeed where Google Glass failed.
Developing a Laser System to Paint Images onto the Retina
Scientists at Bosch have developed an innovative way to display information to the users wearing the smartglasses. Rather than projecting the image onto the lenses, the scientists have developed a system using an array of lasers that project the image directly onto the eye’s retina. Bosch’s uniquely devised “Light Drive” is built form a tiny microelectromechanical mirror array that guides three lasers of red, green, and blue through a transparent holographic component within the right lens, causing the light to be reflected into the right eye, forming an image directed onto the retina. For this reason, the frame and lenses must be carefully adjusted to the shape of each wearer for the lasers to be positioned correctly to pass straight through the pupil.
The image appears on the right-hand side of the visual field, colorful, bright, and always in focus. It was designed to take up just a small part of the field of view, to enable users to view key information, without it being too distracting or overwhelming, while being large enough to be easily visible. The technology ensures that the image is always in focus, so users needn’t worry about how to get the image into focus. As the lasers project the image directly into the retina, our muscles that we use to bring images into focus are not relied on in this case, therefore, whatever these muscles are doing, the image will remain in focus.
The purpose of the glasses is to relay useful information as and when it is required. This information can be dismissed simply by moving the eyes so that the lasers cease to be aligned with the retina, meaning that images can be removed from the field of vision with a flick of the eye.
Designed so that smartphones can easily connect with them, the glasses are intended to make users’ life easier by presenting essential information directly into their visual field with the need to regularly check a smartphone. Think about using a map app for directions, for example. The glasses can also be controlled by touch or via an accelerometer.
Could Bosch succeed where Google Glass failed?
Launched in 2014, Google Glass caused ripples when it was first announced, with people seeing it as a significant step towards an augmented reality future. However, Google Glass failed in gaining commercial success. So, will Bosch’s attempt to disrupt the wearable technology space also fall flat?
Experts conclude that Google’s failure wasn’t related to limitations of the technology, rather, it was related to the marketing of the product which failed to communicate to consumers why they might need Google Glass. A case was not presented for what problems Google Glass solved, of course, the technology seemed fun and exciting, however, to get consumers to make the decision to invest in such a product, they need a solid case of how this item will make their life better. Google Glass did not do this. For Bosch to succeed where Google Glass didn’t, the benefits of their smartglasses need to be clearly related to the consumer.
Another potential barrier to the widespread adoption of the glasses is the relatively lengthy set-up process. Consumers are used to buying new technology and having it ready to go straight away. However, due to the nature of the smartglasses, some time is needed to correctly align the lasers to be directed perfectly towards the retina. This fitting process could prove off-putting to a significant number of potential customers of the glasses.
Both of these potential limitations will have to be addressed by Bosch in order to ensure the success of their new smartglasses.