These New Glasses Could Make Augmented Reality Practical

Augmented reality is awesome, but seriously, you don't want to wear bulky glasses that use lenses, beam splitters and reflectors that make the magic happen. A Ph.D student at UNC-Chapel Hill has developed a sleek pair of augmented reality glasses that are actually light and compact.

Andrew Maimone has been working with three other researchers from the university and two others from NVIDIA Research on an entirely new kind of augmented reality device that you and I could possibly thinking of wearing one day. Here's how it works, according to the MIT Technology Review:

Maimone's device, called a Pinlight Display, does not use conventional optical components. It replaces these with an array of bright dots dubbed pinlights. "A transparent display panel is placed between the pinlights and the eye to modulate the light and form the perceived image," says Maimone. "Since the light rays that hit each display pixel come from the same direction, they appear in focus without the use of lenses."

The applications can be endless, according to Maimone. "I'd love to be able to navigate a city by following some virtual bread crumbs laid down on the sidewalk," he says. "I'd love to have a virtual lunch with my wife every day as if she's seated across the table. I'd love to see the name of a new acquaintance floating next to them when we meet. I'd love to have all of things happen effortlessly in my glasses, and when they do, I think we'll start to see computer graphics more as integral part of our visual system, rather than something that exists only on external screens." [MIT Technology Review]