CEO test-drives Mojo Vision's smart augmented reality contact lens
Forget your bulky AR headsets, smart contact lenses are coming to place augmented reality displays right there on your eyeball. Last week, Mojo Vision CEO Drew Perkins volunteered to test the first feature-complete prototype of his company's design.
Smart wearables are all about super-portable convenience, and until scientists can plumb an AR display directly into your visual cortex, the smallest and most portable form factor we can imagine is that of a contact lens. Mojo Vision has been working on a smart contact lens design since 2015, and its latest prototype Mojo Lens packs in a pretty impressive amount of gear – especially for something that has to live behind your eyelid.
For starters, it has the world's smallest and highest-density display capable of showing dynamic content – a green monochrome MicroLED display measuring less than 0.5 mm (0.02 in) in diameter, with a resolution of 14,000 pixels per inch. It's got an ARM Core M0 processor, a 5-GHz radio capable of communicating at ultra-low latency, and enough accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers to track your eye movements with extreme precision, allowing the image to stay stable even as you move your eyes around.
It's got a medical-grade micro-battery built into its outer ring – which will be big enough to run the thing all day long in the final product version – as well as power management circuits and a wireless charging system. And you won't need hand controls, or a smartphone, or even Meta's crazy nerve-hijacking control inputs to control it – Mojo Vision has designed a hands-free user interface controlled by your own eye movements.
And again, this is all kept so extraordinarily slim and compact that you can stick it on your eyeball and still stretch your eyelid over top of it without the use of a shoehorn. That's what Perkins did on June 23 at Mojo's lab in Saratoga, California, becoming the first person ever to wear this feature-complete AR smart contact lens.
His comments on the experience were pretty succinct: "After completing preclinical testing and mitigating potential safety risks, I wore Mojo Lens," Perkins said in a blog post. "Much to my delight, I found I could interact with a compass to find my bearings, view images, and use an on-screen teleprompter to read a surprising but familiar quote. I experienced firsthand the future with Invisible Computing ... Wearing the lens was inspiring. Seeing the future literally put me at a loss for words."
So begins Mojo Vision's testing process. The company will have a range of other people test the lens, providing feedback that'll be rolled into a production-intent version that will be further developed and submitted to the FDA for market approval. In the meanwhile, the company is working with app developers to build up functionality for the device for when it launches.
"We hope to see Mojo Lens change the lives of individuals with vision impairment," writes Perkins, "by improving their ability to perform daily tasks that many of us take for granted. I envision amateur and professional athletes wearing Mojo Lens so they can train smarter, stay focused, and reach peak performance. Ultimately, this is a tool that can give people an invisible assistant throughout their day to stay focused without losing access to the information they need to feel confident in any situation."
The company is yet to say when it expects to have a product on shelves, but in an interview with IEEE Spectrum, Mojo's Senior VP of Product and Marketing Steve Sinclair estimates the price will be something around that of a high-end smartphone. It sounds like it might be a bit fiddly to put on, too, since it's designed to work at a specific orientation.
But this certainly seems next-level; AR headsets themselves are still at a rudimentary level, and Mojo already seems fairly close with a product that could make other designs redundant pretty quickly if it does what it says on the tin, and maybe gets a color display before too long. Very nifty stuff.
Source: Mojo Vision