On my wish list: contact lenses with augmented reality

31 Jul 2012 3min read

Team Discussion

Multiple authors

Following up from my first blog ‘Through the eyes of silence’ from May earlier this year, I mentioned about having a dream product which would be digital contact lenses with in-built subtitles. Why? Because as a profoundly deaf person, I have certain difficulties in communicating with people without lip-reading or with minimal deaf awareness and many other sound-related dilemmas e.g. The phone or the Tannoy in public areas. It’s like an invisible barrier and that separates us from hearing people on a daily basis.

The only thing ‘helping’ me is my hearing aid and some people think hearing aids would make deaf people ‘hear’ normally like others, it’s not. With it, I even can’t tell where the noise is coming from or split the sounds around me and in that case if you’re wondering what it sounds like for me, imagine people talking in a muffled, indescribable way to you all the time and that would be irritating wouldn’t it?

The dream of subtitled contact lenses becoming real would be a godsend as it will break an awful lot of barriers and will make life a lot easier for me, socially and professionally. I would be able to understand people if their back is turned, and I won’t have to ask them to repeat themselves in order to understand what they’re saying as the clarity would be increased from ‘reading’ instead of ‘hearing’ what they’re saying or any sound.

I came across a video clip on Vimeo called ‘Sight’, a short futuristic film by Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo from the Bezaleal academy of arts. If you have eight minutes, I suggest watching it as it is a really good example of what it could be like.

Sight from Sight Systems on Vimeo.

Their version is aimed at the social side of things whereas I’d be happy just having subtitles, sound description or even the pinpointing of sound direction. The only drawback is that I would probably feel nauseous if used at a long period of time but I’m guessing it’s a matter of getting used to it.

Right now, the closet thing would be Google’s ‘Project Glass’ augmented eyewear which is under development. They are creating a HUD interface in the lenses of the ‘glasses’ (there’s only one lens with integrated camera on the right side) which records images, video, live GPS tracking, status and location updates via Google+.  The interface is controlled by speech and head-tilt control (as if it was a cursor to flip and rotate through settings or pages shown on the lens). It might be a while until they reach the stage of conversion tracking from speech to type but I’ll be watching that space.

The whole area of augmented reality is very interesting to the medical sector, although its application is still some time away. But the concept of providing a surgeon or healthcare professional with a display overlaying key data and information, would be a very useful tool.

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