Innovega to demo augmented-reality contact lenses at CES

It’s like Google Glass for your eyeball.

Inventive startup Innovega plans to show off a high-tech contact lens next week that will float virtual screens filled with information in front of the wearer’s eyes.

Called the iOptik system, the two-part system depends on special contact lenses that work as a filter to let the human eye focus simultaneously on things very near and far, using rings that route light in different ways into the retina. Part two is a pair of special glasses fitted with tiny projectors that transmit data forward onto the eyeglass lenses.


The contacts allow the wearer to view the projected information, whether it’s driving directions or messages or videos, according to a report on CNET.

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"Whatever runs on your smartphone would run on your eyewear," Innovega CEO Stephen Willey said in an interview with CNET. "At full HD. Whether it's a window or immersive."

An example image shows a street scene with five projected windows, including Facebook messages, photos, a Wikipedia page, directions, and more.

The company made a splash exactly one year ago by unveiling a prototype of the technology at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. This year, at the same Las Vegas-based event, the company plans to show a working version. Innovega staff will wear the iOptik system on the show floor, CNET said.

The glasses are slim and fitted with little more than the micro-projectors. Willey said his company will license the technology to other vendors, who may add other elements: audio devices, touch control, a camera, an accelerometer, and other hardware seen in similar gadgets such as Google Glass.

While the company still needs FDA approval, Willey said it was “501(k) market clearance,” which he said was a simpler process.

"It's called a market clearance because contact lenses have already been approved many times over, with many different designs," he said. The company plans to apply for approval in late 2014 or early 2015.