November 22, 2011, 1:57 PM — There have been a million science-fictioney stories, movies, photos and late-night caffeine-psychosis-induced hallucinations imagining how super-mobile, universally connected and unrealistically convenient computing will be in 10 years, or 20 or 50.
None of them quite got past barrier posed by the one component of any computer system that can't shrink in size to a nanoparticle or circuit tattoo or even pocket-sized personal-area-network base module without eliminating its usefulness completely: the display.
Everything else can be painted on, clipped to or embedded in clothes, accessories or skin. Making the monitor so small you hardly notice having it eliminates its usefulness altogether. What use is even the highest-definition image that you can't see?
Virtual projection monitors that clip on glasses, or are embedded in the glass are good possibilities, of course.
There are plenty of "virtual reality" headsets that nauseate users or make them look like dorks while delivering poor image quality and shutting out images of the world outside the video game – which can be good or bad depending on whether not seeing would cause you to miss a plane or miss yet another episode of the Bachelor/Bachelorette/Wedding Dress/home makeover reality programming to which the significant other in your house is addicted.
"Cyberspace" virtual-reality/augmented reality connections directly to the vision centers of the brain are a staple of Cyberpunk and other novels about IT-saturated dystopian futures.
Most involve direct electronic connections within the brain, which is a great idea in novels, but gets less attractive after taking into account the fail rate of PC hardware, speed with which it becomes obsolete, and cost/benefit of having holes drilled in your skull and brain to make viewing a computer screen more convenient.
Smart contact lens: First, see your computer; next, see only what you want to
A group of U.S. and Finnish scientists have built into a contact lens the circuitry that would present the image from your computer monitor, converted into partial transparency like the heads-up-display jet fighter pilots (and, apparently, geekified skiiers) use.
Univ. Washington Dept. of Electrical Engineering