IBM has filed a patent for a pair of glasses that would improve a user’s ability to see at night. However, unlike regular night vision goggles that intensify ambient light to make an area more visible, IBM’s patent describes a method of tricking the brain into accepting high-contrast images. The patent talks about a technique of projecting red light into the eyes to improve the wearer’s sight in low-light conditions. It explains that the rod cells in the eyes (which work better in low light than cone cells) are not stimulated by long wavelength light, such as red light, and hence low or badly lit environments, like dark rooms in photography, use red light. The patent also gives the example of airline pilots using red-tinted goggles for a period of time before before flying at night.
The glasses would sport a sensor that would detect the intensity of light near a user along with a “comparator device” that would detect light intensity against a dimness threshold. The device would also have an onboard projector that would simultaneously project red light into each of the user’s eyes if the intensity of ambient light drops lower than the threshold. IBM is apparently adapting the Google Glass for this technology, as it features a computing system and is capable of running software applications. However, the patent warned that those using the device are at risk of suffering from binocular rivalry that is caused when both eyes are not looking at the same object. IBM hopes to avoid this problem as it projects red light into both eyes simultaneously.