The idea of a smart AR contact lens to help with daily tasks has been in the works at California-based company Mojo Vision since 2015, even as Google Glass came and went. Now, a functioning prototype brings us closer to seeing a final product.
In a blog post this week, Drew Perkins, the CEO of Mojo Vision, talked about his own “on-eye demonstration of a feature-complete augmented reality smart contact lens.” In an interview with CNET, he said he’s been wearing only one contact at a time for hour-long durations. Eventually, Mojo Vision would like users to be able to wear two Mojo Lens simultaneously and create 3D visual overlays, the publication said.
Perkins gives the example of being able to see a compass through the contact and an on-screen teleprompter.
Perkins describes the lens as the “smallest and densest display ever created for dynamic content.” The guts are an Arm M0 processor and a Micro LED display with 14,000 pixels per inch. It’s just 0.02 inches (0.5 mm) in diameter with a 1.8-micron pixel pitch. Power management was described as involving “medical-grade micro-batteries” and a proprietary power management integrated circuit.
The Mojo Lens also uses a custom-configured magnetometer (CNET noted this drives the compass Perkins saw), accelerometer, and gyroscope for tracking. The goal is that AR remains visible even as you move your eyes around, Perkins wrote. There is no gesture control, though Ars Technica reports that there is voice control.
A Mojo Vision repo also told Ars that the current prototype uses a “relay accessory,” worn around the neck. It includes a processor, GPU, and 5 GHz radio for sending and receiving data to and from the lens. According to CNET, the accessory also sends information “back to computers that track the eye movement data for research.” Perkins’ blog said this tech required custom ASIC designs. So while a contact lens may be more discreet than smart glasses, the neck gear might offset that advantage. Apparently the current prototype also involves a hat antenna, but Ars predicts this will be dropped in the production design. No release date but Perkins speculates that widespread adoption would be 10 years out.
“With this advancement, we now have a testing platform that helps us refine and build Mojo Lens that will ultimately lead to submission to the FDA for market approval,” Perkins wrote. “To accomplish this, we will conduct several clinical studies to test capabilities and provide feedback on software and apps.”
CNET reports that Mojo Vision is working with companies that cover running (Adidas), hiking and cycling (Trailforks), yoga (Wearable X), snow sports (Slopes) and golf (18Birdies). According to Steve Sinclair, Mojo Vision’s senior VP of product and marketing, the partnerships are about trying to determine what the best interfaces would be, and whether markets in fitness and sports training would be a good fit.