Two years from now lasers will be beaming images straight onto your retina
Using lasers to project a smartphone screen directly onto your retina sounds like something from the spy thriller Mission: Impossible.
But the technology exists today. It’s being developed in Israel, it will be on the market within two years and it will cost less than an iPhone once it reaches mass production.
Eyejets is going head-to-head with Google, Meta (formerly Facebook), Apple and a host of other tech giants, who all recognize that smart glasses will, within a decade, replace smartphones.
That’s right. Everything your iPhone or Samsung does today will very soon be shrunk down into a pair of spectacles, heralding a brave, new world without screens.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said a year ago that we are “building a future where phones are not an essential part of our lives,” and Apple expects glasses to replace smartphones by 2030.
You may remember the launch of Google Glass back in 2013 – a $1,500 device that projected an image onto the top corner of one lens.
That created a flurry of interest but proved to be a commercial flop. Technology has moved on a long way since then, but the idea of projecting an image onto a lens remains central to most current research.
Some companies are projecting holographic images onto the lens and reflecting it back onto the retina.
Others are dispensing with lenses and projecting directly onto the retina, the thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye, using a virtual retinal display (VRD) system. But users struggle to control their gaze, which means the image jumps
Eyejets says it is the only company that is combining VRD with a unique eye-track technology so that the image from your smartphone remains constantly in view.
Its technology can be fitted to glasses with your own prescription lenses that will, the company says, be as light and comfortable to wear as regular glasses.
Eyejets has drawn on the electronics and applied physics expertise of Dr. Joshua Gur and the experience of veteran ophthalmologist Isaac Lipshitz, who has spent 30 years developing accessories that are implanted into the eyes.
“What we have, which is quite unique is the eyetrack,” CEO Edu Strul, former head of the engineering and aircraft programs department of the Israeli Air Force, tells NoCamels.
The company was granted a number of patents for its technology last September and more patents are pending.
“I can project a smartphone display to your retina and show you a movie, but because your eyes are moving all the time, you won’t be able to see the movie very well.
“Our unique technology means the picture or the movie or whatever, will be projected directly into center vision, into the center of the field of view.”
Extra lasers built into the glasses follow the movement of the retina, constantly correcting the direction in which the image is projected.
The current prototype is proof that the concept works, although clearly there’s a lot of work to do before it’s a marketable product.
So far the smartphone image occupies only a small area, about 15 degrees of our field of vision, but it is working to expand that to 100 degrees.
Lasers project red, green and blue light from the arms of the glasses and a tiny beam splitter in the middle of the lenses focuses that on the retina.
The image is not displayed on a screen of any kind, it is beamed straight into the eye using lasers. They work at a very low intensity – projecting into the eye only a fraction of the laser energy emitted by an iPhone, for example, which uses infrared lasers for facial recognition.
The launch version of its EyeVis product will be a pair of smart glasses that connect to your smartphone.
But its long-term aim is to completely replace the phone and incorporate all its features, in miniaturized form, in the glasses.
Users will be able to access all their smartphone capabilities, they’ll be able to type emails and text messages “in the air” on a virtual keyboard, listen to sound through built-in speakers, and take photographs of whatever they can see.
The technology can be used for early diagnosis of various diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and glaucoma.
And it has military applications, allowing, for example, highly accurate shooting without the need for telescopic sights and improved displays for fighter pilots.
Eyejets says it is currently in talks with one of the largest eyeglass manufacturers in the world about a joint venture.