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2013-06-10

Could we even use a HUD with Cybernetic Eyes?

[Image from Continuum]
It is a familiar sight that we have all seen in movies, television shows, and in games.  Seeing the point of view of a character who has cybernetic (or otherwise enhanced eyes) complete with a Heads Up Display showing vital information overlaid on the image.

Especially in gaming, such information is essential, as it does not hinder our focus, but a quick glance to the side and you can get vital information and situational awareness.  On the battlefield, having an interactive HUD would be a tremendous advantage in identifying assets or dangers that might be overlooked due to environmental conditions.

Over the past weeks Google Glass has gotten a lot of press coverage, and there are already companies working to enhance technology such as this with Augmented Reality and gesture-based commands.  Less covered is the development of similar systems for the use in military, which can be tied into systems to provide critical information.
Both of these technologies work in a similar manner, by placing a small screen in front of one of the eyes which can be focused on.  And such a system works well for how our eyes are designed.

Yet how would a HUD work on a fully integrated cybernetic eye?

With a passive display that overlays information at the edges of our vision we would see nothing more than vague fuzzy images.  This is easy to demonstrate.  Focus your gaze on the edge of your monitor and try to read these words.  Though you will see the web page in your peripheral vision, our biological eyes are designed to focus on the center of what we are looking at.

Cybernetic eyes most likely would be designed along the same lines.  Which would leave us with a HUD that we could not stare at, always darting away to the edge of our vision if we tried to look at it.

There are several solutions that could be developed to help resolve this matter.  The easiest would be to just overlay the information in one eye, so that the person using the artificial eyes could focus their attention on one eye, then switch to the other.  With this, though, the data would have to be centered in your main line of vision.

Another option might be to have mental control over the display in your eyes.  We have already been able to demonstrate the ability to move a mouse or similar pointing device with our mind, so having an interactive display whose contents can me moved around and modified depending on the information you are trying to access may be a better solution, albeit a bit more challenging  on the technological side.

Considering the adaptability of the human brain, there is the possibility that we could be fitted with High Definition eyes where everything is in focus, even our peripheral vision.  And though we might initially think that this could cause severe information overload to the parts of our brain that process images, the brain's ability to filter out information has to be kept in mind.

For now, cybernetic eyes that enhance our vision and provide a heads up display may only exist in science fiction, but there is no doubt that one day our children or grand children may be reading archives of the old fad called blogs with a vision we cannot even imagine.