David Papp Blog

Future tech: computer screens that adjust to your vision

These days, we spend hours in front of monitors and screens. In fact, it’s something that most of us don’t even notice anymore since it has become such an integral part of our everyday lives. We sit in front of our computer at work, constantly look at our smartphones throughout the day, and watch television for long periods at a time. This constant screen-time has been proven to cause eyestrain, and this is something that has harmful effects on our eyesight over time. Now many of us have to resort to wearing glasses or contact lenses just so we can see what’s on our screens – but what if we don’t have to?

A team of researchers from UC Berkeley and MIT are developing a computer screen that adjusts automatically to compensate for the viewer’s vision problems (see vision-correcting displays). It won’t be long now before your blurred or distorted view of text and images will be a thing of the past and you won’t have to put on glasses or contacts (or undergo corrective surgery) to finally get a clear look at what’s on your screen.

How does this technology work exactly?

This so-called vision-correcting display relies on computer algorithms that compute how the display will modify itself based on the viewer’s specific corrective lens prescription. What’s great about this technology is the fact that it is self-adjusting and non-intrusive.

For an individual with 20-20 vision, or indeed someone with any other prescription, the image on the screen may seem distorted. But for the individual with the visual impairment who the screen is catering to, the image would register as clear, sharp and vivid.

At the moment, the prototype consists of a kind of mask placed above the screen and looks like a very thick, but transparent glass screen protector. It is composed of tiny pinholes that are 75 micrometers in size and are spread throughout the panel and are arranged 390 micrometers apart from each other. The technology then controls how light passes through these pinholes, resulting in a sharp image for the targeted viewer.

It’s not perfect yet – there are still issues to deal with such as the fact that you’re the only one who’ll be able to see your screen clearly – but this is an exciting breakthrough that will transform how displays are made in the near future.

41 thoughts on “Future tech: computer screens that adjust to your vision”

  1. This sounds really exciting. There’s already some software out there that helps dim the display as the day goes by, ensuring that the screen’s brightness matches the light outside. This sounds even better, especially since it’s self adjusting. I hope it’ll be able to adjust throughout the day, to compensate for the user’s eyes getting more tired the more time they spend looking at a screen.

    I also like the idea of hardware adjusting itself to its user, particularly in an automatic, non-intrusive way. Can’t wait for this to be released and in widespread use.

  2. I can only understand that if you can only clearly and vividly see your own screen, then you would be oblivious to your surroundings. I am only assuming that this technology is absolutely perfect for someone with terrible eyesight. I would prefer to use my glasses as an alternative to something that can distort images for you.

  3. While interesting, I don’t see this happening anytime soon. There are a number of problems with this: it corrects the screen itself, but you don’t just look at the screen. I don’t wear glasses just to look at a screen, I need them in my daily life, and this screen can not change that.

    If you’re on a computer, you also look at your keyboard, you look at printouts, you look at other things in the room you’re in. For all other things, you need your glasses back on, so you might as well leave them on using the computer.

    If you’re watching TV, you’re also not just looking at the screen, you look at a lot of other things.

    It will only work for one user. You can’t quickly show something to a colleague or you can’t watch TV with the family, because other people all require a different adjustment.

    It is extremely annoying to try and look at things and you just can’t see it in focus. Being able to just see a screen and nothing else is so unappealing, I would still get a pair of glasses and just don’t use the corrective function of the screen.

    This might lead to worse eye problems. If the screen automatically adjusts itself for your eyes, then you don’t need to put any effort into focussing anymore. Your eyes will get used to not having to do anything for themselves, so your vision problems will only get worse. This is why you also shouldn’t let small children watch 3D TV or let them play a Nintendo 3DS, because that will mess up their vision forever.

    So, interesting idea, but not worth it.

  4. If they are able to work out all the safety issues that could actually cause the eyesight to become worse, then this would be the biggest thing since spectacles themselves. In other words, it would sell big time!

    • I agree. I think it is far from perfect at this moment and needs a lot of testing over long periods. I would be skeptical over something so sensitive as my vision, especially as my vision is not the best already, I use glasses and want to preserve my vision as much as possible.

    • That may be true but everything has some problems to it, especially when if first comes out. That’s why I never buy something that just came out.

  5. This sounds really great, although it would be better if it could fit to everybody at the same time of course… I really can’t imagine myself watching something alone just because the screen seems strange for the others…

    Personnaly I wear glasses (for 16 years now), and I can say it tires me to watch the screen for hours. I can’t wait to see if it will be different for people like me, and I bet there are many people like me nowadays. But I don’t know if it would be affordable for now, maybe it will be wiser to wait for the technology to be set and more evolution and research to be made to buy it.

  6. Very interesting indeed. If they can make this technology so that it can change itself to fit the real time needs of the user, that would be amazing. A glass that takes in the current condition of the user and changes itself would allow us to prevent eye strain while using electronics.

  7. As a severely challenged sight person I’m excited about this. I’ve worn glasses for most of my life. I’d love for a computer screen to correct a display for me. That way I could get rid of these pesky glasses when staring at a screen!

  8. One of the problems that came to my mind was the one that was talked about in the last paragraph. It’s gonna be quite expensive considering the breakthrough technology that’s been used, but it would be suitable only for individuals, wouldn’t it? And well, you won’t need glasses to see the TV, but it’s still gonna cause a strain on your eyes, I guess. Unless they came up with a solution too, if they did then that’d be great

  9. Wow! This looks amazing! I’m sure in the future we will see more of those computer screens.
    I saw an article a few weeks ago which said that some students from Romania made an app that can read what you want to say by just looking at your eyes.
    I think this is the future of the technology. I’m really excited to see more of this!

  10. This is really intriguing. As a special educator, I love the idea for students with vision impairments, if there was a way to switch between displays easily. It would be necessary for others to be able to view the screen normally to help the student, and then when the student was working to be toggled back to the adjusted screen. Obviously the current mask version wouldn’t work for this, unless it was easily removed. Also wouldn’t work in my home where there are three different sets of prescriptions. However, as this is just the starting point, hopefully it will develop to something that can be easily switched depending on user.

  11. This is awesome, I can see how this will benefit a lot people with vision issues, specially diabetic people. Those folks have a lot issues when it comes to vision, my aunt is a diabetic, some days she can see very well, but the next day she might not. This would be more than perfect for people like her.

    At least she could use her PC with no problems, would be great if they did the same with the TV! I don’t always wear my glasses when watching TV or using the PC…

  12. This is cool, but it just doesn’t seem very practical. The people with 20-20 vision do not need this because they can already see the screen fine. While people with vision issues wear contacts or glasses anyways, so they have no use for the special screen. The screen adapting to your vision is cool, but it does not change the fact that some people need corrective lenses for everyday life anyways, which renders the screen basically useless.

  13. This seem to be a very useful computer screen. I know I spend a lot of time working on my computer and if I am on to long my eyes start to hurt. This computer screen would also be helpful for children to prevent any problems with their eyes.

    • I bet to differ. This invention can be really practical and useful for those folks who are diabetic, because some days they can see better than others and that’s why the refraction of their lenses isn’t always the right one. I’m talking from experience, seen this happening to my aunt.

      She and other diabetics would benefit from something like this, specially if they do the same with the TV.

  14. This is definitely a good idea, I can see how it will benefit a certain group (diabetics) more than others. I only wear glasses to read, watch TV and use the computer, because the eye doctor told me I needed to do that in order t prevent my eyes to get too tired, but thanks to this invention I’d not need to wear glasses while working with the PC!

    It might not seem much to many, but to me it would be great! I’m sure a lot diabetic people will feel the same way I do.

  15. This is very exciting for a person who does not have 20/20 vision such as myself. I find it bothersome to wear my glasses while at my desktop and this seems to be able to completely change how I and other people see our world through technology.

  16. As someone with blurred vision (my prescription was 250), this would actually be really helpful. I almost spend my day in front of the screen, and wearing glasses most of the time causes me terrible headaches because my eyes are already exhausted.

    One concern though, if a person who shouldn’t use this (one lucky person with 20-20 vision) would this cause them to have visual problems? My point here is that when someone uses your prescription lens, there are possibilities that they will have visual issues too.

  17. A great idea. I wear glasses with prescription and this could be incredibly helpful as I spend a lot of time behind my computer/laptop screen and my eyesight is getting worse with time. It could also put less strain on my eyes which could increase the time I could work and play. I wish this comes out soon at an acceptable price.

  18. This is amazing. I haven’t thought of this in the past but now I am simply amazed by where the technology is heading. I have a small impairment and I’d rather have one of these screens than wearing glasses while sitting at the PC. I hope this will get better and better until it can be released for the big public, and then I will be one of the happy buyers and users of this technology.

  19. This doesn’t seem like a good idea at all. This would only cater to those who actually have a lot of money to spend, and I don’t think many people with vision problems would drop a couple 100 for a monitor that doesn’t require them to put on corrective lenses or contacts. People would still have to wear corrective lenses or contacts everywhere else. And the fact that it would make it appear blurry to people with perfect 20-20 vision, that would probably confuse some people, and for others, it may be annoying if you’re watching a video of movie with someone else that doesn’t have the same vision as you.

  20. A screen that adjusts itself doesn’t sound so bad. Many young professionals are quite health conscious, so if the screen can automatically adjust itself then that is one less thing to worry about. I imagine a lot more people would be interested in finding out how the vision-correcting screen works and if they could address more pain points with its features.

  21. I’m guessing this would take some time to perfect. It’s pretty hard to get this correctly, we even have trouble getting the perfect glasses let alone a screen that adjusts perfectly. But still, I think using glasses is far more convenient and cheaper than this.

  22. I think this would be a great technology to have for TV’s also. But still, I don’t see that much point with this. If I had to pay a lot of money just to have this sort of monitor, then wouldn’t it be much more cheaper to just have a custom made glasses for your eyes?

  23. This is a good news for the people with eye condition problems, I’m looking forward to this technology, hopefully, it will replace my glasses as I have an astigmatism.

  24. As someone with not so great vision this would be stellar. I would be first in line for one of these screens. I just have to hope that it adjusts to even the worst vision and doesn’t present any problems. I bet there are quite a few kinks to work out but a great idea none the less.

  25. I would love to have this right now! Especially for mobile devices with smaller print sizes. I usually use my mobile device right before going to bed, and it’s a pain to keep wearing my glasses.

    Doing a mobile application of this technology would also get rid of the downside of others not being able to use my device, because I usually don’t let other people borrow my phone. It can even be an added security feature that deters others from accessing my device unauthorized.

  26. This sounds really awesome!. I would love this technology. It sounds like it would be very beneficial to everyone. Especially those who have issues looking at the screen all day while at work!

  27. I don’t really think that this concept holds much promise, as someone with myopia. Sure, I would be happy to be able to see whatever is on the screen without glasses, but that would make anyone else unable to see what is on my screen clearly. If I’m working in an office scenario, I wouldn’t just be focused on my screen all the time, I would have to look at physical notes and documents as well. Having to put my glasses on to read these documents, then taking them off to view what is on the screen is way too much of a hassle.

    It is more important that these screens help to prevent further visual degradation, i.e. adjusting brightness to a comfortable and healthy level automatically based on the ambient lighting.

  28. As someone who works on a computer for roughly 10 hours a day, this sounds extremely exciting. Often I stare at the screen for so long that I can’t help but start to get blurry vision. I don’t like the fact that it makes the screen difficult for others to see, usually I have my coworkers look at my computer to help me with what I’m working on. I would be interested in getting something like this after all of the kinks are worked out!

  29. What a cool idea. Yesterday I had a really bad headache, so I kept taking my glasses off to apply pressure to my head. But using my computer made it worse because I didn’t have my glasses on. That would make it very easy. Though it would be interesting to see the implications of it in the long run, in terms of what it does to the screen (damage or use), and of course how *perfectly* they can get it.

  30. So while it might take some more years to perfect, the development of this technology has me feeling happy. I’m one of those people that stares at my computer, phone device and my TV everyday and my eyes don’t really get much of a break to relax from the strain. I have to thank my lucky stars my eyes haven’t deteriorated that bad. But once they work out the kinks and get the screens working perfectly, it’s going to be miracle of a gift to those with severe vision problems when it comes to reading fine or small writing on computer screens. I also hope they can incorporate the same kind of screens for smartphones.

  31. It would be amazing to have this technology. Being a glass-wearer myself, I am aware of how frustrating it can be when I can’t seem something on screen and I have to squint or look at it from a different angle because the image or words blurs. It can’t be avoided either, because I do everything online, form school work, work-work leisure time and the like, but with this technology I would be able to put the thought of becoming half blind in a few years out of my mind.

  32. I love that technology is all about personalization these days. Instead of just having one thing that works the same way with everyone, there’s so much choice in how we use our products. Last time I visited the doctor, I still had 20/20 vision so I hope that means that the screen would be super crisp when I stared at it.

  33. I don’t think this will gain a lot of support. People that can’t read something on the screen with their naked eye probably have glasses so they can. Most likely this screen is going to cost more than a normal screen so what is the point of getting it. People still look away from their screen at other things, so will they view their surroundings as blurry since they don’t have there glasses on. Granted, if they have perfect eyesight except for looking at screens than this would appeal to them.

  34. This sounds great and is something I need. I’ve noticed the older I get, the more I need to use my reading glasses. (Okay I know that is probably common sense but it is true for me!)

    I just have to wonder if this same technology, could possibly be used in glasses/contacts themselves and perhaps help even those who are legally blind (not fully blind but close) have been vision? I’m not asking really, just something I’m wondering.

  35. I think these adjusting screens are unnecessary. If you’ve noticed the smartphones which do that, it frustrates at time when they don’t give you the ‘right’ screen brightness. Perhaps working on eye friendly screens is a better option than adjusting screens.

  36. I’m glad to hear this. I know I spend hours in front of either my computer, my cell phone or my tv screen. Too much time. Sometimes, I have to literally force myself to turn off everything and let my eyes and brain relax.

    On another note, I’ve noticed that when I’ve spent too much time in front of my computer for several days straight, my vision changes. Sometimes, I also get headaches. So, there definitely needs to be more studies and technological improvements done in relation to this.

  37. This would be great if it ever pans out. My vision is not as good as it used to be. If my computer screen could help out with that, I wouldn’t even need to keep my glasses on. I can’t wait for this to come out, but I’m not sure how long it would take.

  38. It’s a good innovation but it can only be used by a single individual at a time. I would be really impressed if they found out a way to make group viewings possible. With that said, it’s already a pretty helpful piece of technology on its own. People who suffer from less than perfect vision won’t have to wear their glasses all day at work.

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