Concept: Future Eye-Computers
Here’s a concept for what I believe is coming next: computers that you use with your eyes and mouth. (Update: Turns out Google is working on computer glasses, but their take on this has some differences.) The screen covers your vision, like in a movie, and, as a courtesy, a light is projected onto your eyelids, to indicate your status. (Green when you’re computing, and nothing when you aren’t.) I’m still working on the right pattern, so it doesn’t look like glowing makeup.
One problem with projecting light into your eyes is that if you’re in the sun, for instance, you won’t be able to see dark regions of the screen. So, alternatively, this same eye-computing method could be done with glasses, if it turns out that companies can make this technology small enough. (These screens can block light, letting you see dark regions.)
How it works
Your eyes are the mouse, and you can click on whatever you’re looking at. You click by making tiny clicking sounds with your mouth. Higher-pitched clicks could be left-clicks, and lower-pitched clicks could be right-clicks. (You can try it now, by looking at buttons on your screen, and making faint click sounds.) Dragging a selection, or drag-n-dropping files, would be done by making a “tsssss” sound, which lets go when you stop.
There would be two forward-facing cameras, like Microsoft’s Kinect, that watch your hands, analyze where you are, and decide where to project things in your vision. (For example, if there’s a table in front of you, the computer could show you a 3D hologram floating above it.)
There would be different ways to type:
- You could simply talk, after making a “talk-begin” sound with your mouth.
- You could air-type, with your hands, onto a virtual keyboard that you see floating in front of you. (However, that would be hard with a regular keyboard layout, so, it might need something different, like 2 donuts that surround each hand, following them, with a different method of reaching keys.)
- You could put both hands on any table/surface in front of you, and type on a virtual keyboard that you see laying out flat. (only you can see it, unless you opt to share some of your projections with those around you. A wireless signal would send your feed to others.)
- If you’re walking/jogging/etc, you could also put both hands on your stomach (in a “my belly’s full” gesture) and use that as a solid surface for typing on… as long as your eye-cams could see your hands.
- You could use your eyes to manually punch out keys on a virtual keyboard, that you see floating in front of you. (slower) This would be one of the newbie methods of typing.
(Here’s a 95% un-thought-out view of what you might see, using pieces of interface from a different article of mine.)
You might wear a small box behind one ear, almost entirely hidden, with a tiny, see-through wire or tube running out to power the projectors/glasses. If a computer of that size couldn’t process high-quality 3d by then, the actual thinking might be done by a larger computer, elsewhere. (That computer would receive a wireless feed of everything you’re seeing… It would process it, decide where you should see buttons/windows/etc, then send the image back to your eyes.)
Using the projection method, there are probably different ways to get light into your eyes:
- If light-based projectors are never able to shine an image directly into the eyes, without ALSO requiring a lens somewhere, everyone might just have to wear tiny glasses.
- You might wear contact lenses, like these. (They need to figure out a way to make contacts non-annoying, or at least not have to be taken out more than once every 2 weeks, or something. I wore contacts for a while, and just went back to glasses.)
- You might wear glasses that hold the projectors… even if they’re just a strip over your eyebrows, with no lenses.
- Transparent tubes could protrude from the computer box, like seen in the first picture. They would need a kiss-proximity detector, which detects an approaching face (or your hand), and pulls back behind your ears… like when you touch a snail’s eyeballs.
- You could record video of anything you see, any time. There could be an ability to everything, but delete whatever you don’t soon specify as being “a memory”. So, every amazing moment you ever had could be saved and rewatched, without the fuzziness and inaccuracy of your memory. (However, I think everyone would need a little training on how to not ignore natural memory in favor of computer ones, or you might literally lose your ability to remember well.)
- Video games would be amazing. You could go outside, and see the game all around you, and walk through it. There could be games where you find yourself hiding from enemies that actually seem to be hunting you down in the real-life. In shooters, you’d see rockets flying across your actual street, and soldiers storming your neighbor’s house. You could get real exercise, running around and having fun. (Forget jogging.) You could play Capture The Flag with your friends, just by going outside, and telling the computer where to put the flags. (I believe all society would quickly get fit if there was a method of exercise as attractive as that.)
Update: Here’s a video by Google, showing some possible future uses for their computer glasses, Project Glass.
(This is all conceptual. None of this works yet, but they’ll surely have stuff like it in the final product.)