Finnish optical display could rival Google Glass

The era of bulky, geeky-looking smartglasses might be over. Developers in Finland have created a thin display that fits into ordinary eyewear.

ESPOO, FINLAND (NOVEMBER 18, 2015) (REUTERS) – Wearable devices are here to stay, but so far smartglasses have appeared bulky and geeky-looking. Developers in Finland believe they are close to solving this issues with a thin, discrete plastic device that can be embedded directly into ordinary eyewear.

Using lightguide optics the new displays, measuring just one millimetre in thickness, bring visual information directly into the user’s field of vision, as a high-definition image on a single eyeglass lens. This allows users to continue to see the world around them through the other lens.

CEO of Finnish tech company Dispelix says an image source is transmitted directly in front of the user.

“The picture is from image source, as to say. So (the) picture comes from the image source and it’s incoupled in this area and the image travels by total internal reflection to this grey area where it outcouples to the user’s field of view,” he said.

“The image is about (the) size of a 60-inch television looked from three metres distance,” Sunnari added.

The new optical device is thin and transparent and can be customised to a user’s needs, whether that is screening high quality imagery or simple monochrome information, say developers.

“We can incouple the image and outcouple it to users field of view and the plastic piece can be integrated in the normal spectacles,” Sunnari said.

The displays are a work in progress for Dispelix, a spin-off company of the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The developers are now working with other parties to develop electronics, design and software for the optics.

“We do the optical component and the projects and optics. From the markets and from our customers we will need electronics and design and of course software,” Sunnari said.

Current smartglasses such as Google Glass and Samsung Galaxy Gear may not have taken off yet, but app developers are racing to create games for the new devices that might replace our smartphone and tablets.

Dispelix is targeting healthcare and manufacturing, but say the displays will have unlimited applications for consumer and professional use.

According to its press release, the device’s first applications will be found in the world of exercise, work and motor sports. Thanks to the new display, a sportsperson would no longer need to check his or her pulse-rate from a watch – pulse-rate, navigation and activity data will be directly displayed on sport glasses.

The company is working on fund-raising and building a partner network to accelerate commercialisation of the product. It says the product might be available to the public within a year.