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in the blink of an eye
DRESDEN, Germany – In the JamesBond film Die Another Day, the titularhero trains for his upcoming mission usingvirtual reality sunglasses. Researchers atthe Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) are developing a bonafide interactive display on a pair of glassesthat they hope will be worthy of the fictional spy.
A user of the Fraunhofer glasses will beable to look at his surroundings and the display at thesame time. Technically, thiscombination of a virtual reality display and the abilityto see the surrounding environment is referred to asaugmented reality.
Although virtual andaugmented reality head-mounted displays have beenaround a long time, historically they showed information only passively andwere bulky to wear on thehead. The Fraunhoferglasses are lightweight andinteractive.
The researchers are developing an eye-tracking feature that willenable wearers to influence the content ofthe display by scrolling with their eyes orby fixing their eyes on a point to select amenu option. A separate group of researchers, at Fraunhofer Institute for Information and Data Processing in Karlsruhe,Germany, is working on eye-tracking algorithms that can distinguish between intended eye movements and random onessuch as blinking.
This eye-tracking feature will be usefulfor anyone needing to work with his handswhile using the display, including surgeons, civil engineers and technicians.This option will allow surgeons to operatewhile viewing x-ray images, or buildingengineers to look at plans while workingon a project. The glasses also connect to apersonal digital assistant that can be usedfor handheld control.
The interactive display consists of or-
ganic LEDs on top of a 19. 3 ; 17-mm
CMOS chip, a lightweight combination.
In the prototype model, the chip is just
behind the hinge on the temple of the
glasses, and the bidirectional display proj-
ects onto the retina of the wearer so that it
appears to be viewed from 1 m away.
The eyeglasses’ final model may haveadditional optics. According to MichaelScholles, the business unit manager at
Fraunhofer IPMS, “The challenge is to
find an optics design that can be used both
for generating the virtual image display
and the eye tracking.”
Until spring 2011, the product’s devel-
opment will be funded by the Fraunhofer
central administration under the iStar proj-
ect. The project has an industry advisory
board that includes companies such as
EADS, Daimler and T-Systems, which are
pilot users of the system.
“We think that first applications will befor professional use (assembly, maintenance, medical). However, within thementioned iStar project, also a touristyprototype application will be developed.So, yes, we believe that the interactiveeyeglasses will be available to the greaterpublic, but only as a second step,”Scholles said.
David L. Shenkenbergdavid.firstname.lastname@example.org
Researchers at Fraunhofer IPMS created these interactive glasses.Courtesy of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.