Bay Area technology company Mojo announced today that they’ve reached a significant milestone with development of their Mojo Lens technology. This is truly the tech of the future allowing you to experience augmented reality with a special contact lens — no headset or visor.
For years this has been the dream of many people including yours truly, and a common element to see in movies and TV shows. It’s always seemed unlikely that such a thing could be done in our lifetimes, but that’s why you never bet against science!
What’s augmented reality again?
As a quick refresher, augmented reality (AR) is different from virtual reality (VR) since it works in conjunction with the world around you, rather than by replacing your reality with a different one. Imagine walking around with GPS arrows pointing down a street, or your currently playing sound in your earbuds appearing in the upper corner of your vision. No more peeks at your phone when it rings or a message comes in, since it can simply appear in front of you. You can even imagine giving a speech with cue cards always visible, so you have perfect eye contact.
Can it be more than a simple heads-up display?
In terms of virtual tourism and history, it’s easy to imagine a model of a place appearing on a table in front of you to examine (complete with people walking around it!) or to have David Attenborough sitting across from you in your living room telling you about the rainforest. At this stage, the display only takes up a very small amount of your vision, so it’s not intended to replace your vision as with VR glasses, but it’s not hard to imagine this eventually being possible. Even until that point though, I can imagine being able to walk around a ruined building and seeing the original state of it in place, or to have immersive personal interactions at a museum.
A few details
These lenses have the highest density displays ever made, which is important since the physical size is so incredibly tiny. They are also incredibly light, use self-contained batteries, and can communicate wirelessly with your phone to show notifications and other content. I was also surprised to learn that they only actually touch your sclera (the white part of your eyes). I have trouble wearing prescription contact lenses due to dry eyes, so this is particularly exciting.
It’s also pretty shocking that such tiny little things have eye movement tracking in them. Since they sit on your eyeball, they can sense the movements of your eye, similar to how a phone knows the angle you’re holding it. It can use that to make sure that the images stay in the right place as you look around, and also allows you to have some control in a context where you can’t touch or click (just look up to the right at a virtual button for a few seconds, for example). They sound truly amazing.
So when are they ready?
It’s hard to believe that something this small is possible, but it does exist, even if only in a lab for now. There’s no word when they might come to market or for how much, but Mojo claims to already have industry partners and is making strong progress in reaching their goals. I imagine they’ll be quite pricey when they come out, but I know there will be customers from day one. They should know that I’m happy to test them once they’re ready!
All images courtesy of Mojo
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