A new Silicon Valley company is developing augmented reality contact lenses that will provide users with real-time information on the web, in the latest development of portable technologies that aim to close the gap between man and machine.
Mojo Vision, an ambitious new company that was founded in 2015 and has since raised more than $ 100 million, demonstrated the technology last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, allowing visitors to look through a prototype and Try a simulation of the user interface.
The lenses look a lot like their traditional counterparts, but they are packed with technology, which includes a micro-LED display, a microprocessor, wireless communication and a variety of sensors. They are operated by eye movements, where users look at the functions on a “home screen” to select them.
Although the demonstration was limited to features such as showing weather conditions and travel times, Mojo says it provides for a wide variety of future use cases, including providing subtitles for foreign language conversations and fitness statistics for runners.
“It makes you smarter at the moment. Increase your memory. Or let’s say you have to give a speech: the transcript is right in front of you, “said Steve Sinclair, head of product and marketing at Mojo.” Being connected to the Internet means having access to any type of service, [including] connect to Alexa to give voice commands. “
The development of Mojo lenses occurs when many of its bulkiest predecessors have failed to take off. Google unveiled its Glass smart glasses with a lot of fanfare in 2012, but the device was plagued with privacy and cost issues, while the wider smart glasses market has never gained serious commercial traction.
“The glasses are going to have many limitations and the technology is exceptionally difficult: frankly, there is still no clear way to get [smart] glasses, “said Drew Perkins, CEO of Mojo.
On the contrary, Mojo’s contact lenses, which technically are not entirely “augmented reality”, in which an interactive world can be placed over the real one, but rather a digital screen, are discrete and relatively simple to operate.
Once calibrated, the home screen, a green ring full of functions, is activated by looking sideways, while the options can be selected when looking at them. Maintaining a fixed look for a few milliseconds is the equivalent of a double click, and another side look discards the information.
The lenses have no camera and cannot record anything, but are equipped with an image sensor that looks outward. With more development, Mojo said the sensor could recognize faces in order to get information about people and help in the conversation.
The lenses have limited computing power, but instead connect to an external device. Mojo said he would not use Bluetooth, but would depend on a proprietary short distance communication technology that jokingly calls Mojotooth, something could make the device less attractive to owners of smartphones equipped with Bluetooth.
“It’s all about reducing the amount of energy and calculation needed in the eyes, so that we can power the device throughout the day,” Mr. Sinclair said. “The goal is to put on the lens in the morning and wear it all day. He is free most of the day, but when he needs it, he gives him the information he needs. “
Perkins refused to give a schedule of when the product would be ready for consumers, but the eye experts who tested the prototype lens were optimistic about their prospects.
“Mojo has made significant efforts to make it safe for the eyes, working with optometrists to make a viable product,” said Jeffrey Sonsino, former president of the contact and cornea lens section of the American Optometric Association. After trying, he called it “mental disturbance,” a “leap forward” in a field generally reserved for incremental change.