New device eMacula for better vision

SYSTEMS engineering and lens development company Innovega has created eMacula, a new generation of eyewear that combines smart contact lenses and lightweight glasses. The system will be tailored to the needs of vision impaired patients who will benefit from both lens-based vision correction and from magnification and digital enhancement of the view of their surroundings.
The eMacula solution responds directly to the fact that the vision of these patients cannot be sufficiently improved by techniques based on the use of normal glasses lenses or contact lenses. By capturing an image of the wearer’s surrounding, magnifying it greatly, then providing it as a panoramic near-eye display, Innovega aims to improve the wearer’s sensory performance. This has the potential to restore some percentage of the lifestyle these people have lost. As an extension to this patient aid, the same system of smart contact lenses and display glasses could be used to deliver digital media directly to the wearer (virtual reality), or to allow the wearer to simultaneously view their surroundings and media that is useful (augmented reality (AR)). The eMacula system is therefore flexible and configurable based on the user’s preferences.
Innovega is based in Washington and California.
Mega-pixel resolution
In the case of an AR configuration, the eMacula system is different from previous AR glasses, such as Google Glass, which delivered a low resolution, single-eye, narrow (15-degree) field of view experience. The eMacula system delivers mega-pixel resolution across a panoramic (50–100 degrees) field of view experience, and to each of the wearer’s eyes.
The personalized contact lens component of the eMacula system incorporates the wearer’s usual vision prescription, but also a small lens at its center which enables the user to focus on digital content provided by near-eye microdisplays mounted within the glasses.
Innovega is currently engaged in seeking FDA approval for the new generation of contact lenses that are used in the system, and both wearer testing and Phase II clinical trials are under way.
Innovega has also designed an intra-ocular lens that could be surgically implanted during cataract surgery inside the eye, which can provide the user with an improved view of their surrounding, plus an ability to view near-eye, high performance displays mounted in smart glasses. A complete appraisal of this opportunity will require clinical assessment in the future.
According to Steve Willey, AR glasses have failed to meet even the most basic needs of the human wearer which include: normal, stylish appearance; lightweight and comfortable; useful and compelling AR display performance that includes panoramic overlay, high-resolution media, unobstructed view of one’s surroundings; and in-focus simultaneous view of both real-world and digital media. No less important is the fact that more than 60% of wearers will also need a means of vision correction and will not wear AR glasses if they experience symptoms of eye-strain. This list of expectations and needs holds true for all wearers, irrespective of whether they are consumers, workers, or patients.
Key elements
The eyewear system comprises two key elements: 1. Glasses with integrated display screens; 2. Contact lenses that enable the wearer to view their surroundings with clarity while also viewing “near-eye” digital information or media that is delivered from high-resolution microdisplays fixed within the glasses. This new generation of “smart” contact lens incorporates the wearer’s vision prescription (if required) to ensure a clear, real-world view as well as a lens that delivers in-focus clarity of over-laid media.
High-resolution camera
The eMacula glasses incorporate a high-resolution camera that captures the wearer’s surroundings and in particular, items of interests that given the visual handicap of target patients would not otherwise be discernible. Digital zoom or magnification is applied to the captured scene, as well as scene enhancement techniques that the wearer will adjust based upon their needs. The process of capture, magnification, processing and near-instant display of the image to eyewear screens is not unique.

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