Tech startup Mojo Vision wants to skip the transition from bulky headsets to glasses and go straight to contact lens based AR. Third party users haven't had the chance to wear it or try out the finished tech as I write, but Venture Beat's Dean Takahashi has seen a prototype and demonstrations of the embedded tech, as well as demos of what the finalised Mojo Vision contact lenses will be capable of.
The Mojo Lens relies on a number of technologies coming together. Perhaps the most important component is the AR display which projects imagery onto your retina. The display is as small as a grain of sand - which sounds rather a painful thing to have in the eye, if it wasn't embedded in the smooth contours of a lens.
Mojo's sand-spec display uses MicroLED technology and is positioned directly in front of your pupil so it can project and focus light on the fovea, to deliver AR info to the this most receptive portion of the eye. The MicroLED display has 70,000 pixels (for reference a 320x240 display has 77,000 pixels) and is 0.5mm across delivering 14,000ppi. Another important feature of MicroLED is that it is a low energy tech, using only 10 per cent of a common LED. Furthermore, they can pump out 5x to 10x brightness compared to OLED alternatives.
As well as this remarkable "densest dynamic display," ever made some important supporting tech is bullet pointed below:
- Single-core ARM-based processor
- Image sensor
- Tiny thin-film, solid-state battery within the lens
- Battery lasts all day and can be recharged using something similar to the Apple Airpods case.
- Lens is a rigid, gas permeable design which sits on the white of the eye, not the cornea
- Lens is made to fit user
Later versions will add an eye-tracking sensor, a communications chip, and could be powered by another wearable which could also provide internet connectivity.
Though the above hardware development is essential, some clever software is also required to make the most out of contact lens VR. Mojo has worked on this been demonstrating it using current tech like HMDs, so users can know what to expect.
Takahashi's demo featured "simple green words and numbers hovering over objects in the real world." Simple images, charts, maps and so on can be useful and are triggered in a smart context sensitive way and using eye UI control. In a firefighter example, Fast Company explained that the emergency workers could see the locations of "other firefighters, even when they were separated from me by a wall." Additionally, "numbers at the top of my view showed my oxygen tank level, communications signal strength, and other data." Lastly, "an alert began flashing, instructing me to get out of the structure."
Emergency services, industrials and government agencies are likely to be the first Mojo Lens customers but they are expected to come to other markets, like medical - helping the visually impaired - and eventually consumers in the coming years.