The power of the internet is undeniable. It enhances and enriches our everyday lives, providing endless information and support. With the recent release of 4G we really are immersed in an interactive online world, always entertained as long as we have our smart phone. It is incredible how far we have come, from dial up internet and huge bulky computers to wireless internet to compact lightweight touch screen tablets. Rest in peace indestructible Nokia 3310. Still, we are far better off in our new age of Facebook and Twitter, although “twerking” and “selfies” are a troubling sight for the future of our world.
What about the future? Not hover-boards (although these would be brilliant) but Internet glasses and contact lenses. Google glass would appear to be the next product available, but isn’t this all a bit much? Well in a word no. Here is why.
1) Internet lenses are happening.
Since 1991, Babak Parvis and his team from Washington University has been steadily developing virtual retina display (VRD). They have crafted a miniaturised computer chip that will fit into a contact lens controlled by a wireless connection. There are various ways to view an image on a lens, the two popular choices are to flash an image directly onto the retina or to project an image onto the lens itself. The result would be a movie screen like image before our very eyes, couple this with the power of the internet and we are in for some very exciting times. At Keio University in Japan, there is substantial development of virtual reality. Teams of scientists have developed a system to make objects appear and disappear through interactive lenses. Why do we want this? How about…
2) Academic and medical advancements.
Imagine you are diabetic. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to monitor your glucose levels without having to draw blood in a physical test? Internet contact lenses would allow just that. Medical student? How about viewing a surgical procedure through the eyes of your teacher? Better still, it would be possible to conduct surgery with semi-transparent visual aid on your contact lens, with visual instructions from your teacher. If you are an architect walking through a derelict property, you could visualise a new design as you walk, capturing a video of the process as you go along. It would be possible to stream repair guides in front of your eyes, just like a surgical procedure you could be repairing your own car before you know it. Travelling to new exotic places will become much easier as you could translate foreign languages on a screen in front of your eyes. Very handy.
3) Day to day benefits.
It would be possible to take pictures and videos with your glasses or contacts. How great would it be to show others what you see? You could Skype or connect with anyone at any time, allowing you to feel like you were actually there. These devices will be able to recognise pictures, buildings and faces (rather like Terminator) allowing you to interact with your surroundings. Long tedious journey ahead? Kick back and (legally) stream a movie. Parents would be able to see where their children are. Police officers would be able to stream their view to others.
4) Issues with this technology
Having the power of the internet at your immediate disposal is undeniably incredible. However, take a second to envisage the potential problems with this. Testing students would be incredibly hard if they could google an answer through their contact lenses. Think how distracting it would be to have an alert pop up in your vision whilst driving your car. Soldiers could become super soldiers with internet capable contact lenses. A Marine would be able to see the location of the enemy using GPS. This may sound useful but war as a concept is always negative. Being connected visually to the internet is undoubtedly useful, But it morally right for anyone to see what you see?
It would initially appear that only good things could come from a technological advancement such as this but is there a line? We already live in an age where our freedom is compromised for our security. Our emails and phone calls are monitored by “Big Brother” and our privacy is virtually non-existent. Having someone intrude on your sight is a rather worrying thing. Sadly this is a very real scenario.
Nevertheless, the technology will not be with us until mid-century and even then it will be expensive. Regardless, the advancement of this type of technology is inevitable and will enrich our lives with exciting new possibilities. Please feel free to comment in the comment area below.
Long live science!