New high-tech glasses track your gaze and display information about what you’re looking at, which could make a simple stroll down the street much more interesting.
Researchers in Finland have made a prototype pair of glasses that attaches to a small handheld computer and retrieves information from a database.
"The glasses recognize people and some objects you see, and try to infer if you would be interested in getting more information about them," said study co-author Samuel Kaski, director of the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology at Aalto University.
"The data is displayed on the inside of the lenses but in such a way that it seems to be out in the real world."
The researchers envision future versions of the data glasses that are able to sync up with the Internet wirelessly to retrieve information. The glasses would zoom in on objects and people in the wearer’s environment, and use artificial intelligence software to figure out their relevance to the wearer. The experience would be like conducting an Internet search without having to type in a query.
This opens the door to some interesting possibilities: For example, you could call up information about someone you are meeting for the first time, or learn the nutrition facts of an item in the grocery store just by looking at it.
Once the information is retrieved, it’s shown on tiny, transparent displays that sit close to the wearer’s eyes. Text and images appear to hover above or near the objects the wearer is looking at.
This kind of real- and virtual-world mashup is called augmented reality, and certain smart phone apps already can provide a less seamless version of it.
Kaski sounds optimistic that his team’s high-tech lenses being available commercially in five to 10 years. He said he and his colleagues will detail their findings in a forthcoming issue of the journal Virtual Reality.