A transparent display that can be integrated into an eyeglass lense has been developed by Finnish researchers.
The display allows for smartphone technology to be incorporated into eyewear in a more seamless fashion than devices such as Google Glass.
Unlike Google Glass, which projects an image onto an external prism to display information to users, the new technology is integrated directly into the lense itself to produce an effect that is similar to viewing a 60 inch television from a distance of three metres.
The researchers, from company Dispelix Oy, which is a spin-off from the Technical Research Centre of Finland, said the displays should be integrable with current smartglasses and will be made available to consumers within a year.
"As electronics and optics evolve, displays will even be seamlessly integrated into ordinary glasses," predicts Antti Sunnari, managing director of Dispelix Oy.
"Compared to existing solutions, which are bulky or difficult to manufacture, the Dispelix solution has advantages such as the display's thinness, lightness, aesthetic appearance and volume production compatibility."
The technology is based on lightguide optics, which enables the manufacture of displays on either glass or plastic in the form of light and thin elements with a thickness of just one millimetre.
In addition to thinness, the benefits of the technology include a large, high-definition virtual image that is highly transparent that can be shaped according to the needs of the device.
A virtual image can be formed within the user's field of vision, which prevents eye strain, and can be customised for different applications with either a simple, monochrome display or a multi-coloured video image.
The researchers predict the technology will have a large number of role-specific applications for both consumers and professionals.
They said the technology will be initially applied to exercise, work and motor sports. For example, the new display could provide a sportsperson with a continuous pulse-rate and allow for navigation and activity data to be directly displayed on sport glasses.
Dispelix is currently looking for commercial partners to mass produce the technology with the first customer deliveries expected in 2016.
Augmented reality and virtual reality markets are forecast to hit £100bn revenue by 2020, from which optics share is £1bn.
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