Color Eyewear

I get a lot of questions from people about Microvision's Color Eyewear platform -- particularly how it is differentiated from the many other wearable displays that have come and gone before. There are some important reasons why what we're working on here is going to be something really special that we think can be disruptive in the market for information displays.

1. See-Through, Daylight-Readable
Color Eyewear embeds the Integrated Photonics Module into a new ultra-thin optical design that captures the light output and reflects it to the wearer. Using laser light, we're able to project images and text that are bright enough to see in any kind of ambient lighting. (Try to read your phone's LCD screen next time you're in bright sunlight.) Color Eyewear enhances your mobility, since you can keep walking to your destination, or keep talking to whomever you're talking to, while receiving visual information from your mobile device. The context of your activity is always respected. You and your goals are the focus.

This is really in contrast to the traditional wearable display approach, which seems to be about watching movies or TV while sitting on a bus or train on a screen that "appears to be a 32" TV from 4 feet away" or whatever. Some of the newer models have pretty slim form factors, but the basic premise is still the same. They remind me of the referee peering into the 'review booth' when a play is challenged in football. You're peering into a little window at a screen in front of your face. And I've yet to see anyone wearing one of these things in public, anywhere.

With our see-through Color Eyewear platform, you're able to keep doing what you're doing, while interacting with your mobile device. This approach is unique and I think will be significant to our success.

2. Integrated Fashion Eyewear
One of the great things about our new Integrated Photonics Module is that it's a full-color display engine about the size of an Andes thin mint candy. This small size allows us to embed these projection display engines into traditional fashion eyewear frames. There's no dangling box hanging down, no fixed-pixel flat panel blocking your view that you need to look around with your peripheral vision. There's nothing but see-through glass that can be styled like fashion eyewear, or safety goggles, depending on the application. So we have tremendous flexibility in the styling and the form-factor of Color Eyewear devices -- and we are well positioned address the stringent fashion and ergonomic concerns that have inhibited mass-market adoption of other wearable displays.

3. Macro Trends in Technology
Obviously, there's no need for wearable mobility displays if there's no content to deliver, no applications to support. It's pretty well established that today's smartphones have all the capability of a laptop from a few years ago. And of course all of that capability is constrained on the output side by the 2" LCD screen. With our PicoP projector and our Color Eyewear platform, we expect to eliminate that bottleneck and level the playing field between mobile devices and traditional fixed internet-enabled computers. Every day there's more news about wireless protocols, advanced data compression algorithims, improvement in electronics, all of which points us to the same place: digital information is becoming a persistent part of our environment. Faster reception, faster transmission, faster computation, location awareness, more data storage, user-generated digital content, richer applications, more mobile services that have value. Our goal and our focus is to position ourselves at the nexus of these macro trends by delivering platform technologies that add value to the experience of mobile devices.

4. Challenges
It's critical to acknowledge the challenges here. There have been no mass-market success stories in the history of wearable displays...yet. It's understood that there's a lot required to really get it right. Fashion concerns, ergonomics, input mechanisms, display performance and configuration, consumer attitudes about wearing technology, killer applications and optimized content...all of these things need to be understood and addressed to create a disruptive, breakthrough product that has widespread mainstream appeal.

So there's a lot of work to do. But each day I get more confident about the path we're on and our ability to deliver value to our customers and stakeholders. The Microvision Color Eyewear team is focused on delivering on some key milestones over the course of this year and I look forward to reporting to you on our progress!


  1. Ben,

    As usual, your clear eyed view inspires.

    It's been quite a month for you and MVIS (and us old timers), hasn't it?

    Very busy here in the non-MVIS world, but keeping a close eye on all things IPM.

    See you in the promised land.


  2. Hi Ben,

    I would like to be able to switch between see-through- and occluded-mode as a consumer. The former for reading mail while walking to a business meeting, the latter while watching a movie in public transportation. Unfortunately, I don't see a more elegant way to do this than "clicking in" different glasses. Maybe some of you bright minds at Microvision can find a solution for changing translucence on-the-fly? Would be a huge market even for conventional sunglasses.

    Best regards,

  3. Hi Ben,
    What is up with the Fraunhafer Institute? I know that MVIS is working with them, but to what degree? Are they also working on their own pico-projector or is it all MVIS IP? Any more information on this relationship would be greatly appreciated!

  4. Hi Ben,
    I've been following MVIS progress over the last couple years and it looks like my predictions (c. 1995) for mobile augmented reality are coming true. My main question about the Color Eyewear display is how do you achieve contrast in the image? The laser produces the bright areas, but how does the display produce dark areas, if it is a see-through image? Is there a way of occluding dark areas?

    My secondary question is: when will someone produce a commercial product? You mentioned Nokia; how about an Apple iPhone with your display? Is this the "jaw-dropping" product Steve Jobs has hinted at?


  5. To Christoph & Kevin:

    We recognize the need for variable occlusion based on the type of content that's being displayed: ie, see through nav instructions vs. mobile TV, or movies.

    We're investigating some promising solutions to this market need that will extend the usability of Color Eyewear to a variety of application scenarios.

  6. Oh, yeah, there was "one more thing" . . . any chance the lasers in the display could scan the person's retina for ID info? This would be revolutionary, as it would provide positive ID for anyone with at least one eye. You wouldn't need passwords, credit/debit cards, or passports.

    Could also open up scary 1984 Big Brother scenarios. (Or Minority Report-style eye transplants?!)

    Anyway, just wondering...

  7. Hi again,

    thanks a lot for your reply. I just realized that electrochromatic glass might be a nice solution to my variable translucence problem up there. You are probably aware of this, but I wanted to mention it to make sure. There are several companies working on such glass, for example Corning or this one:


  8. Kevin,
    Think about the barcode scanner and how it works. If it can scan barcodes it can scan your retina.
    I am sure that this feature would require the right components but it is sure possible.

  9. Hi Ben,

    It's so exciting to know that the color eyewear was under development! Does it mean we can wear these kind of specs to display any info/image in the near future? I am very keen in knowing more..but I wonder why such a revolutional invention is not commercialized yet? The VRD technology was introduced more than 10 years it because of some technical difficulties? when can we buy them? will it be very expensive?

    looking forward to your reply!=)

    Best wishes,

  10. Hey Ben,

    I just found this old link between MVIS and SGI. Any plans for MVIS to bring this up again now that full color fashion eyewear is close at hand?

  11. Will one be able to connect these glasses to a handheld computer, such as a pda running Linux, so that one can bring up xterms at the same time.
    Then with a small Bluetooth keyboard connected I could work from it.
    Also, would these glasses be available with perscription lences?


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