Google Glass may have unleashed an entirely new trend in wearable tech: smart eyewear. Considering the company has already adapted the gadget for prescription glasses and is currently working on contact lenses with a built-in camera, we think there is about to be a serious boom in this industry. We鈥檝e already started to master things like GPS navigation and smartphone notifications, so what鈥檚 the next advancement for smart eyewear? Virtual reality. We know augmented reality devices already exist 鈥斅燼nd have for awhile 鈥斅燽ut Andrew Maimone, a PhD student at the University of North Carolina, has created a prototype headset that just might top them all. Mainmone鈥檚 glasses, called聽Pinlight Display, offer a field of view that basically wipes all current glasses out of the water. Today鈥檚 state-of-the-art commercial augmented reality glasses have a field of view of 40掳 or less, while Pinlight prototypes have demonstrated fields of view of 100掳 or more. Here鈥檚 how it works: Conventional augmented reality glasses use lenses, beam splitters, waveguides, reflectors and other optics to relay an image to the eye. Maimone and his team have tossed aside these conventional optical components and replaced them with something called pinlights. Pinlights are an array of bright dots that have been etched in a small piece of glass with a 3-D printer. A transparent display panel is placed between the pinlights and the eye to soften the light and form the perceived image. We know this all sounds very mechanical, but here鈥檚 what it comes down to:聽Anyone who has wore a pair of virtual reality glasses before knows that when you pop them on, peripheral vision is practically nonexistent. So while whatever image being projected in front of you might look great, it鈥檚 still always a little disorienting not to have a full range of vision. That problem is sufficiently lessened with Maimone鈥檚 invention. His hope for this advancement is to make augmented reality less of a gimmick and more of an integral part of life.聽In an article for the MIT Technology Review he says he would love to use Pinlight Display to have lunch with his wife everyday as if she鈥檚 seated across the table (awww) or maybe see the name of a new acquaintance floating next to them when they meet (we totally need that). With a display that more closely mocks our natural vision it鈥檚 easy to see how practical a device like this could be.

This headset is in the works, but don鈥檛 expect to find it in stores anytime in the immediate future. Currently, the prototype鈥檚 biggest pitfall is its low resolution. While you can see more with Pinlight, the image quality is still far below what you鈥檒l find in commercial augmented reality glasses. But after some minor (and major) bugs are fixed, who knows what these babies might be capable of?

What do you guys think of using augmented reality in everyday life? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.聽