High-tech glasses wow with new advances

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High-tech glasses are becoming more advanced and could one day give you options to get directions, place video calls or check into social networks.

The augmented reality vision that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cyborg character used to track people in the Terminator movies isn’t here yet, but researchers and tech companies are making progress building on similar concepts.

While it will take a few years for wearable computing to mature, recent developments show there’s a lot of interesting activity taking place in the field.

The Centre of Microsystems Technology at Ghent University in Belgium announced this week it has developed a rounded and curved LCD display that can be used in contact lenses and turn them into sunglasses or a highly pixilated display.

This LCD-based technology is different from LED-based contact lens displays that are limited to a few small pixels — it enables the use of the entire display surface.

The prototype shown in a video only displays a rudimentary pattern, but researchers say next-gen versions could be used to do things such as control light traveling toward the retina in case of a damaged eye, or for cosmetic purposes to change the color of a person’s iris.

Someday, they say, the technology could be used as a head-up display, although there are still barriers they need to overcome before it’s ready to be built out for consumer use.

Elsewhere in the realm of high-tech eyewear, Internet search leader Google stirred up a frenzy in June when it concocted possibly the best prototype demo ever.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin hijacked the Google i/o Developers Conference to show off skydivers jumping out of a Zeppelin sporting Google Glasses that streamed to the world video of their descent and landing on the roof of Moscone Center in San Francisco.

According to a Google concept video, its glasses will someday replace the smartphone and present in the periphery of your eyesight options including checking into social networks.

If you haven’t seen the demo, you’ll be amazed, not only at the technology, but at the stunt, as well.

The developer version of Google Glasses is set to ship in early 2013, which will mean new applications and hardware for the technology will be forthcoming.

There are plenty of other advances in wearable computing to track.

For instance, the Vuzix Smart Glasses M100 —a wearable Android computer — is slated for launch early next year. It makes use of a virtual display eyepiece, integrated WiFi and Bluetooth, a 720p HD camera, and head-tracking sensors, and can integrate with iOS or Android apps. Tricks the M100 can pull off include hands-free phone calls, image capture, web surfing, text messaging and navigation.

Also, SingularityHUB lays out several other interesting developments, such as Vergence Labs’ social video sharing sunglasses, which the startup successfully funded on Kickstarter.

This summer, Oculus ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for its virtual reality Rift goggles. The startup’s goal was to deliver prototype kits into the hands of developers who can then build out software that can make the goggles usable with existing games.

Game developers and tech pundits have had a lot to say about the Rift goggles.

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