The Human Interface Technology (HIT) Laboratory at the University of Washington has received the 1998 Discover Magazine Award for Technological Innovation in the sight category. The award cites Dr. Thomas A. Furness III, director of the HIT Lab as one of the key innovators of a virtual retinal display technology. In recognition of this honor, the virtual retinal display is featured in the July 1998 awards issue of Discover magazine. The virtual retinal display was developed under a four-year research and development contract between the University of Washington and a Seattle corporation, Microvision. The virtual retinal display scans a low-power beam of light that "paints" an image directly onto a user's retina rather than a screen. Three laser sources (red, green and blue) are combined to provide a full color scale. "The virtual retinal display is a breakthrough in imaging technology that will optimally couple human vision to the computer," says Furness. "The VRD will see applications not only in high-end military and medical systems but in aids for people with low vision and ultimately in everyday use with computers, telecommunications and television. We look forward to working with Microvision in bringing these great possibilities into reality."
The annual Discover Awards for Technological Innovation were started nine years ago to recognize talented "men and women whose contribution to technological innovation improves the quality of everyday life and alerts us to what 's next on the frontiers of human achievement and ingenuity." More than 4,000 corporate, academic, and government research centers were invited this year to nominate innovative technologies from categories ranging from computer hardware & electronics to sound. Judges in the sight category included award-winning photojournalist Harry Benson; New York Times consumer electronics columnist Hans Fantel; television critic, humorist and syndicated columnist for Newsday and the Los Angeles Times Syndicate Marvin Kitman; and nationally syndicated film critic and television host Gene Siskel. Awards were presented during a ceremony held last month at the EPCOT Center in Orlando, Fla.
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