The eye is the screen: an Israeli startup is developing smart glasses to replace smartphones

Unlike Google Glass, this innovative new product projects images directly onto the retina of the eye

An Israeli startup has developed smart glasses that project images directly onto the eye’s retina.

Modi’in-based company Eyejets says its new device – dubbed EyeVis (EV) – will soon replace smartphones.

Unlike other competitors in the smart glasses category currently available, such as Google Glass, the EV uses a projection system called a Virtual Retinal Display (VRD), which projects images or content generated by a computer, TV or a smartphone, directly on the wearer’s eye rather than on a screen.

The technology is coupled with a proprietary eye tracking unit that allows the projection to be pinpointed precisely to the center of a person’s field of vision based on their eye movements.

According to EyeJets CEO Col. (res.) Edu Strul, the device is unlike any other available on the market today.

“For most companies that have developed smart glasses or augmented reality glasses, the image or display is on the lens,” Strul told The Media Line. “We have developed eye tracking that follows the movement of your eyes. This means that if you watch a movie, you will see it very well because the projection is directly in the center of the field of vision all the time. No one did [before].”

Strul is an aerospace engineer who previously served as head of the aircraft engineering and acquisition programs department in the Israeli Air Force.

EyeJet was founded by both Strul and Dr. Joshua Gur, who serves as Chief Technology Officer and has 40 years of experience in optical technology. The duo were then joined by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Isaac Lipshitz, an eye surgeon who specializes in the field of intraocular optics and intraocular implantable devices.

While other companies in the past have successfully developed VRD-based systems, projected images would either be off-center or blurry due to a lack of eye movement tracking capabilities. The new patented EyeJets technology corrects this shortcoming.

The EyeVis, which the startup hopes to launch by the end of next year, will offer a range of smartphone features, including sound, camera options and a virtual keyboard that will allow users to type. It will also be compatible with existing smartphone apps.

The smart glasses use a miniaturized array of low-intensity lasers, which the company says are safe for everyday use.

“When we presented it to the Israel Innovation Authority, the first question was about safety,” Strul said, adding that the new device meets safety standards established by studies on VRD lasers that have been previously conducted by the US military.

The EyeVis keeps users’ peripheral vision active so they can always see what’s going on in the real world. Additionally, the size and transparency of the image projected onto the retina can be adjusted, Strul said. People requiring regular glasses will also be able to wear the smart glasses with a prescription if necessary.

VRD is not a new concept. The basis of the technology was originally invented by the Nippon Electric Company in the 1980s and later developed at the University of Washington in the early 1990s. However, VRD has so far mainly seen applications in the fields medical and military.

Some tech giants have also attempted to launch VRD-based smart glasses in recent years. In 2018, for example, Intel announced Vaunt, smart glasses designed to look like conventional glasses. The firm abandoned the project after only a few months.

Today, EyeJets has a demonstration device and is in talks with major global eyewear and technology companies to accelerate development.

“It’s a demo that shows the strength of the patent and we need to develop it into a prototype,” EyeJets CTO Gur told The Media Line. “It will take about a year.”

Gur added that the company aims to make the glasses as affordable as possible and cost less than a high-end smartphone.

“We believe people will have a great experience watching the screen,” Gur said. “No one has tried our method [before].”

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