Big screen TVs slowed down augmented reality research, a UK tech company alleges.
The Technology Partnership (TTP), a Cambridge-based product development company, has perfected successful prototype augmented reality eyewear. These glasses - unlike Google's Glass - project a video image right in the center of the lens, allowing the tech to be near-invisible as the user goes about his or her business. Though TTP is not a manufacturing company in its own right, it is discussing licensing possibilities with at least one major US manufacturer.
The eyewear has a video projector unit set within one arm of the glasses. This unit sends the image to the center of the glasses' lens, which then beams the image back into the user's eyes. The user doesn't have to do anything to make this work; they can look straight ahead and see whatever it is the glasses choose to show. So far the image is monochrome still frame only at 640x480 pixels, but TTP is confident that will change as technology improves. So far TTP is talking in terms of sports, leisure and medical applications, but eventually TTP expects people will be watching video on the move.
According to Roger Clarke, TTP's project manager for augmented reality technologies, not only have displays like this been technologically possible for some time, we ought to have had them much sooner than this; a sentiment with which Gabe Newell of Valve would agree.
Clarke thinks that the explosion of interest in bigger products like large screen TVs back in the 1990s is to blame. Sony and Sharp were the only ones to think, way back when, that people would buy smaller displays, and when that backfired the market abandoned miniaturization technology. "If things had gone differently," Clarke said, "then we would already have very high-quality tiny displays today."