Carl Zeiss thinks it can make smart glasses you’ll want to wear

Two inherent problems with ‘wearable technology’ as far as I am concerned: 1) it basically only does what something else is already doing for you (so has limited if any added value), and 2) they look fat too ‘geeky’, certainly historically but to a large extent currently as well.

Take the original (short lived) Google Glasses. They just looked too Geeky for your everyday chap or chappess to wear!

Now point 1) above will always be with us I guess as the wearable concept depends on access to a smart phone so you are always going to be carrying the master to the wearables slave (unless/until they add WiFi, 4G, GPS et al to the wearable), so the future lies in finding some way to a) add value to your everyday technology requirements from the wearable, and b) make them look cool.

Engadget have a post from CES which shows there is hope as far as Point 2) b) is concerned as designer Carl Zeiss is developing lenses that can make smart glasses subtle and fashionable (will need to be prescription as well to hold any interest for me!)

As you might expect from a company that designs glass lenses, Zeiss isn’t worrying about the computer hardware, displays or software that might run on a future pair of smart glasses. Instead, the company has figured out a way to project a heads-up display onto a curved lens. Unlike Google Glass, the result will ultimately look near-identical to a standard pair of glasses. If you look close, you’ll see subtle variations in the lens, much like bifocals, but it’s far less noticeable than the large module that made Google Glass look both futuristic and bizarre.

The system from Carl Zeiss breaks down like this: The battery, processor and other guts of the smart glasses are packed into the “arm” of the prototype glasses. That’s all wired into a tiny OLED display near where the arm meets the glass lens; the images on that display are then projected through a polycarbonate/mirror “light path” attached to the edge of the lens that functions like a much more complicated prism.

The display ends up appearing onto a “fresnel structure” that’s placed on the lens. That area is technically a second, extremely thin lens that is where you’ll look to see what the OLED is displaying. It’ll likely be placed somewhere to the side of your direct field of vision, but it can theoretically go anywhere on the curved lens a designer chooses. I got to check this all out in large-scale demo devices as well as a prototype put into a pair of glasses.

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