DARPA-created contacts would give warfighters new view of old data

The Defense Department’s research and development arm wants to enhance soldiers’ vision with virtual reality contact lenses.

Instead of relying on bulky helmets and goggles to provide vital battlefield data, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking to make contact lenses with built-in systems that would allow soldiers to focus on distant targets and overlay their vision with tactical information.

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A part of the agency’s Soldier Centric Imaging Via Computational Cameras (SCENICC) program, the goal of the effort is to provide individual soldiers with data from reconnaissance drones and battlefield sensors — a capability gap that the DOD is trying to remedy, DARPA officials said.

Researchers at Innovega iOptics are working with DARPA to develop the contact lenses, which would work by projecting digital images onto tiny full-color displays next to the wearer’s eyes. The lenses also will allow soldiers to focus on objects both near and at a great distance.

The goal of the SCENICC program is to develop new imaging and hardware capabilities that greatly enhance warfighters’ awareness, security and survivability, DARPA officials said in a statement.

About the Author

Henry Kenyon is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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