JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla.—NewSight Reality, (NSR), a tech startup that is developing optical technology for augmented reality (AR) glasses, recently received a boost in the form of a $14 million contract awarded by the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Directorate of Science and Technology. The contract calls for NSR to design and test a functional prototype of a Transparent Optical Module (TOM), a see-through near-eye display and optics technology. “We are very pleased that SOCOM recognizes the importance of developing our approach to advance the technology in this space,” said retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, board member of NSR.

“With SOCOM’s support, the development and testing of prototype TOM will be functionally focused and tuned for various application environments. NSR will be refining the technology, algorithms, and functional usage of TOM in operation. SOCOM support and guidance is driving ‘best practices’ in development and testing to assure and maximize the ultimate performance of this technology.”

NSR president and CEO Phil Garfinkle told VMAIL that the company’s proprietary TOM technology can also be leveraged for enterprise and consumer applications. He said many of the features of TOM have been specifically designed to overcome obstacles that the AR industry currently faces, including bulky form factor, high energy consumption—especially for daytime operation—and lack of field practicality.

“Wearers will have the ability to use their glasses in daylight and night applications,” explained Garfinkle. “The module can integrate into lenses in a manner that does not portray a digital display to people other than the wearer, allowing for fashion, function, and performance with application usability.”

Other benefits include size, scalability, long battery life, low heat and no need for calibration. “In addition to its versatility, TOM will be lighter, more energy efficient, and more resilient than currently available display and optics technologies,” Garfinkle added.

The technology that enables TOM has been developed by NSR over the past two years, resulting in five issued patents and over 30 U.S. and foreign patent applications in process. Optical entrepreneur Ron Blum, OD, co-founded the company and serves as chairman.

Garfinkle said he expects NSR’s technology will be ready for market in one-and-a-half to three years. Meanwhile, the company plans to work with strategic partners to develop several applications for TOM, ranging from stylish designer glasses to integrating TOM into microscopes, safety goggles, and other display environments.