Super soldiers or the kind of soldiers Jean Claude Van-Damme and Dolph Lundgren played in "Universal Soldier" often seemed plausible but a little far off. Now it seems the future is now, as the latest reports have it that the US military have sanctioned the purchase of contact lenses that will basically give soldiers "super vision."
It was revealed today that the Pentagon had placed an order for contact lenses that could enable a much wider field of vision for the wearer, in this case a US soldier and these will be paired with a newly designed heads up display or HUD unit in the form of glasses that will project images onto the contact lenses. The data that could be relayed via the HUD units to the lenses could include target updates from overhead drones and satellites as well as commands.
The lenses, known as iOptik, are designed by Innovega, which, in an announcement, said that they had been contracted by the Pentagon to deliver working prototypes to the US military’s research wing, DARPA, with an eye to even have it ready for the public by around 2014.
Speaking about this, Innovega chief executive Steve Willey said, "The new contract gives us an immediate opportunity to start prototyping and demonstrating elements of this new system,” according to a report on BBC.com.
What makes the iOptiks so special is that they allow for the wearer to be able to focus on two images at once, namely the image projected on to the lenses itself as well as the image within the wearer’s immediate field of vision, allowing for the wearer’s retina to focus on both images simultaneously.
Innovega’s chief executive explained, "Normally, for example, with a camera you focus on something distant or something close - but you focus on a particular spot. By wearing our contact lens you automatically have this multi-focus, or dual-focus, and you are doing something that humans don't usually do."
Innovega also envisions a commercial use for the iOptiks, seeing it having applications in gaming as well as providing wearers with "augmented reality" for a more "immersive experience." This would especially be the case with 3D movie viewing, which could have different images projected onto either lens providing the 3D effect.
The iOptiks themselves are presently undergoing US FDA testing before they can be made available to the public.
But some scientists have expressed concern saying that the potential of ‘dual-focus’ may not be all that it is trumped up to be. Speaking to the BBC, Professor Gary Rubin of the University College London's Institute of Ophthalmology said, "If you're walking around with a heads up display on, the image projected on the lens could mask your peripheral or central vision. And if it's magnifying the image or changing the way it moves when your eyes move, you could get motion sickness," according to the same report of BBC.