The way we interact with technology is always changing, and some in the industry claim the next big step is the metaverse; a spatial version of the internet that mixes digital content with the real world. But how is one supposed to interact with the metaverse? Today’s virtual and augmented reality hardware is clunky and inefficient, but a smart contact lens? That sounds like science fiction, but we may be getting close. A company called Mojo Vision says its smart contact lenses are now a functional prototype with a micro LED display and medical-grade micro-batteries.
Drew Perkins, the CEO of Mojo Vision, recently announced he was the first to get an “on-eye” demonstration of the company’s technology. Currently, he’s only wearing one lens at a time, and just in one-hour increments. Mojo Vision’s eventual goal is to make two lenses work as a pair, allowing the wearer to see images in 3D, similar to the way VR and AR currently work.
The Mojo lens is fully self-contained, sporting a Micro LED display with 14,000 pixels per inch, but it’s only 0.2 inches (0.5mm) in diameter. Still, Mojo says it’s the highest density display ever created for dynamic content, which it has to be when it’s literally sitting on your eye. Perkins says using the Mojo allowed him to view a live compass, as well as see blocks of text to read off like a teleprompter. It even displayed a single monochrome image of Einstein. Since there’s no interface you can touch, all navigation is controlled with eye movements.
We have completed a successful wear of our fully functional Mojo Lens prototype on eye! Read CEO Drew Perkins’ blog post on what it was like to wear a smart contact lens here: https://t.co/VPRyqi06ek#smartcontactlens #mojolens #invisiblecomputing pic.twitter.com/RClgdyGikt
— Mojo Vision (@MojoVisionInc) June 29, 2022
The remarkable thing about the Mojo lenses is that they’re mostly self-contained. The device runs on a tiny ARM M0 processor with a microbattery and custom integrated circuit for power management. That makes them on the bulky side, as you can see from the images above. So, if you were hoping for all-day comfort, that’s still a way off. It comes across as very futuristic, but Mojo is still constrained by certain technological limitations. For example, the lens relies on a “relay accessory,” which is worn around the neck. This device contains a processor, GPU, and a 5GHz radio to send and receive data from the lens. Currently, the user also has to wear a hat with an integrated antenna for improved connectivity. This is something Mojo is working to eliminate in the prototype, according to CNET.
So, the tech is still far from perfect, but Mojo Vision believes it is on track to developing a usable piece of technology that could get FDA approval. The company plans to conduct multiple clinical studies to ensure people can use the Mojo lens safely for longer periods of time. Perkins says he believes we’re about ten years away from having these devices in our heads.