iOptiks Innovega

Anyone who's used an augmented reality app (or seen Minority Report) will recognize this cool bit of gadgetry from a company called iOptiks: contact lenses, filled with tiny circuits that shoot 3D images directly into your eyeballs.

In the last couple years, many tech companies have been jumping on the augmented reality bandwagon, but there remain few elegant applications of the technology. Now comes an idea by a U.S. company, Innovega, to produce the um, eye-popping augmented reality contact lens, the iOptik. The company has announced they would have the product ready by 2014, and they will be able to project images on the eyeball by making use of a companion pair of glasses acting as a see-through screen.

Innovega says the resulting image would be the equivalent of standing 10 feet from a 240-inch television screen. Connected to a tablet, smartphone or portable gaming device via Bluetooth, the lenses could portray close-up HD images or translucent ones that don't block a person's vision. It would be a very different experience from today's clunky virtual reality helmets/headsets. As with many high-tech gadgets, this one also has gotten the attention of the military, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is reportedly working with Innovega on a version of the lenses for use in combat.

DARPA was the first agency to make use of virtual reality, so their interest in this idea is no surprise. iOptik lenses would make use of nanoscale engineering to achieve their impressive design, and the resulting product would also be quite light. This is especially true because the lenses would not require their own power source, an obvious problem should they overheat and injure the wearer. Now the only question is, do they come in prescription strength?

Tell us in the comments if you'd use a product like this or if you think it crosses the line.