No Glasses Needed: Prototype Smartphone Display Accounts For Your Bad Vision

Tell it your prescription, and the experimental screen makes blurry images clear for you.

No Glasses Needed: Prototype Smartphone Display Accounts For Your Bad Vision
[Image: Flickr user Robert Couse-Baker]

People with vision problems, rejoice: A team from Microsoft, U.C. Berkeley, and MIT has created an experimental screen technology that would allow you to view your devices clearly without your glasses. The technology is still far from a commercial product, but the prototype–which uses an iPod Touch–is able to account for a viewer’s specific vision problems in real time.


The system relies on an acrylic light filter, placed over a screen, with tiny holes that go directly over each pixel. An algorithm based on your eyeglass prescription alters the light generated by each pixel on the display. This two-part system produces the clear images you would normally see if you were wearing your glasses or contacts. However, there are two stubborn issues that the researchers still need to work out.

Currently, the system only works when the user is a set distance from the screen and viewing it straight-on; any movement would distort the image. The team is working on an addition to the system that would track the location of users’ heads and eyes, giving a clear display at any angle.

The other big challenge is that the acrylic light filter and algorithm make it impossible for people without your specific prescription to read or watch something clearly on your device. But the engineers say this issue may resolve when the system is used on devices with higher pixel density.

The team plans to present their iPod Touch prototype at the SIGGRAPH computer graphics and interactive techniques conference this August in Vancouver.

Read more about this technology here.

About the author

KC works covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America" where he was the social media producer.