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This Week on Mystery Theatre:
The Eyes Have It!

March 18th, 2022

Camera glasses like the ones featured in this week’s Mystery Theatre were a bust when Google and Snapchat tried launching them a few years back. But it seems that smart specs are returning for another try, thanks to companies like Ray-Ban and Facebook.

And if they take off this time, I wonder how long we’ll have to wait for smart contacts with eyetop displays and haptic interfaces.

I remember reading about the development of eyetop lenses a few years back when researchers from the University of Washington developed a lens with a single-pixel display. My initial reaction: “What can you do with a single pixel?” But then I recalled a night in the mid-70s when I came across something called a video game. It was a big tabletop device with a single dot bouncing back and forth across a black-and-white cathode ray screen.

The game was called Pong. Manufactured by Atari and released in 1972, it was essentially a digital form of ping-pong.

Today our games give us 4k virtual reality with 80 pixels per inch. Put on a VR headset, and you can play something that looks indistinguishable from real ping-pong … or even a virtual game of tennis in a fully-realized stadium (complete with an audience).

So the question is, how long until we can dispense with the headsets and goggles and have full eyetop VR and maybe even the ability to record what we see simply by looking? And maybe the bigger question: If such tech becomes possible, will it catch on?

A lot has been written about smart glasses and privacy concerns. And then there is the problem of carcinogenic radiation. Such concerns are considered in a Business 2 Community article titled “Why Google Glass was a Miserable Failure.” So it remains to be seen if the new Ray-Ban glasses or smart contacts will fare better than their wearable predecessors.

You can learn more about the latest attempt at on-you-face hardware in a review at PC Mag, and you can find out how the presence of such technology contributes to Prime Stage Theatre’s new time-travel mystery by listening to Episode 3 of “Time is Out of Joint.” Simply click the player below. No contacts or eyewear needed. Just put in your earbuds … and I’ll meet you there.