Prototype Display Lets You Say Goodbye to Reading Glasses

Jul 28, 2014

By Rachel Metz

Those of us who need glasses to see a TV or laptop screen clearly could ditch the eyewear thanks to a display technology that corrects vision problems.

The technology uses algorithms to alter an image based on a person’s glasses prescription together with a light filter set in front of the display. The algorithm alters the light from each individual pixel so that, when fed through a tiny hole in the plastic filter, rays of light reach the retina in a way that re-creates a sharp image. Researchers say the idea is to anticipate how your eyes will naturally distort whatever’s onscreen—something glasses or contacts typically correct—and adjust it beforehand so that what you see appears clear.

Brian A. Barsky, a University of California, Berkeley, computer science professor and affiliate professor of optometry and vision science who coauthored a paperon it, says it’s like undoing what the optics in your eyes are about to do. The technology is being developed in collaboration with researchers at MIT and Microsoft.

In addition to making it easier for people with simple vision problems to use all kinds of displays without glasses, the technique may help those with more serious vision problems caused by physical defects that can’t be corrected with glasses or contacts, researchers say. This includes spherical aberration, which causes different parts of the lens to refract light differently.

While similar methods have been tried before, the new approach produces a sharper, higher-contrast image. The paper on the research that Barsky and others wrote will be presented at the annual International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, also known as Siggraph, in Vancouver, Canada, in August.

For the paper, researchers took images of things like a rainbow-colored hot-air balloon and a detail of a Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait and applied algorithms that warped the image by taking into account the specific eye condition it was told to account for. They then showed the images on an iPod Touch, to whose display they had affixed an acrylic slab topped with a plastic screen pierced with thousands of tiny, evenly spaced holes.

2 comments on “Prototype Display Lets You Say Goodbye to Reading Glasses

  • An amazing possibility. The screen could be tailored for the owner’s specialised needs and reading glasses could be delayed for years. These days I do almost all my reading and writing on a tablet as this is the easiest medium for such tasks. I wish the technology had been around when I only needed assistance with close work. Now I use multifocals so I guess the time has passed.



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  • Absolutely astounding from technological point of you. I can see google glasses using that. But probably will take 20 years to perfect?



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