IBM patents Google Glass-like eyewear with new night vision technology

IBM has patented an eye-gear that is said to have red-eyed night vision. Although this does not promise a true night vision, the device as described in the patent can improve sight under low light by making the brain focus on high-contrast imagery.

The Google Glass modifications include a sensor and a comparator device that detects contrast light intensity. When there is a drop of light intensity below a level where it’s hard for the human eye to see, two projectors (one for each eye) cover the users eyes in red light to enable night vision. Remember the red eyes emerging from behind the bushes in cartoons. They were usually of animals of the cat family. These animals have a color in their eyes that help them see even in the dark. Tigers have six times better night vision for the same reason. That explains Shere Khan’s intimidating stare!

IBM seems to have capitalized on this biological mechanism. A dark environment with a red tinge help the rod cells, which are the photoreceptors in our eye to deliver high contrast images to the brain. When the user enters a vision area with little light, the projector automatically projects a low-level red light into each of the eyes of the user. Shining the red light directly into the eyes creates a response similar to casting red light onto an environment, which means it triggers the rod cells to send higher contrast images to the brain. IBM’s patent documentation claims that by projecting the light into both eyes through two separate sources, the side-effects of binocular rivalry and phoria are negated.

Google Glass hasn’t seen the light of day, yet. Such technology brings about concerns for sure but has some appeal value to the masses. Whether or not IBM will do what Google could not, and make this technology available to the masses, is only a matter of time to find out.