First Glasses, Now Contact Lenses!

Google Glass was all the rage last year, but this year's Consumer Electronics Show introduced a worthy rival: the iOptic contact lens system which allows the wearer to stream media and get a full-screen heads-up display.

This new addition to the range of interactive wearables was developed by technology startup Innovega, a company that focuses specifically on wearable tech. The system consists of two parts: a specifically designed pair of transparent glasses that serve as a projection screen and a pair of contact lenses that process the light coming from the projectors that are part of the eyeglasses. With this combination, the wearer can not only see "glance-able" displays but can experience their surroundings in a way that is equivalent to the experience of a 240-inch TV viewed from 10 feet away, in the words of Innovega chief executive Stephen Willey. What the glasses actually do is overlay digital media and augmented reality information on the lenses, when the two are worn together. Without the lenses, the glasses offer a peripheral screen display to the wearer, and the lenses themselves can function as normal contacts as well.

The intention of Innovega, which first showed its product at last year's CES but is now introducing the finished prototype, is to offer users both a platform for everyday use, while driving or exercising, for instance, and one for watching movies, playing games and using apps, with Willey saying in an interview for CNET that "whatever runs on your smartphone would run on your eyewear." The prototype could be further developed to include audio additions, cameras and other features present in Google Glass. For the time being it is compatible with smartphones running on Android.