Eyes down

The cellular phone will soon be used as a mobile bank

Published: Friday 15 August 1997

advances in mobile phone technology could spell the end of hole-in-the-wall cash machines by turning the phone into a portable bank. Using laser systems capable of projecting large quantities of data straight into the eyeball, mobile phones will be able to relay full details of accounts without requiring large display screens. Users will also be able to charge "smart cards" with cash by inserting them into the phones ( Spacelight , May 1997).

The capability to put images straight onto the retina is also likely to herald smaller computers as it will reduce the power supply currently required by computers to display information on large screens.

The technology being developed in the us is known as virtual retinal display. It could eventually be used to deliver anything from share prices to feature films straight on to the eye through mobile phones. It has been made possible because of a micro-vision system, the idea for which became very popular after the release of the sci-fi film The Terminator , in which an android can overlay data on his field of vision.

The technique fires a low-power laser through the eye lens onto the retina, where it either overlays data onto the field of view or obscures it. Figures might be overlaid or a feature film shown which could obscure everything else. Combined with other technologies, the system will allow instant access to data, enabling users to keep a constant eye on matters such as their finances. "We always said that the mobile phone was going to be the bank branch in your pocket," says the Association of Payment Clearing Services, usa , which confirmed that banks were testing the light and eyeball technology.

Researchers believe the micro-vision system will lead to a world where consumers -- wherever they are -- can pay for, and use services such as television and multi-media. According to Todd McIntryre, vice-president, Microvision, the company developing the technology, the system will also have bionic applications. Surgeons conducting key-hole surgery could be given a complete picture of the progress of an operation from a camera inside the body. Instead of having to look at a screen, they could have the images beamed straight into their eyes in 3- d .

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.