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Augmented reality contact lenses may become a staple of consumer electronics much sooner than one might think. Such devices can power seamless augmented reality experiences, and potentially groundbreaking medical applications are already being explored.
Mojo Vision introduced its prototype augmented reality contact lenses in January 2020. Less than one year later, the company has announced a new development partnership with contact lens industry leader Menicon. The partnership will help Mojo Vision bring its futuristic technology one step closer to realizing its full potential in the market.
Mojo Vision: Augmented Reality Contact Lens Pioneers
Mojo Vision is a start-up company based in Saratoga, California, US. It has over 100 patents for its groundbreaking augmented reality contact lens technology, Mojo Lens.
Since launching the Mojo Lens prototype in January 2020, Mojo Vision has focused on commercializing the technology and scaling up the business.
In 2020, the company has increased its staff count to 100 and announced a $51 million funding injection. This brings Mojo Vision’s total funds raised so far to $159 million, with investment from large technology companies such as Google and LG.
Mojo Vision’s Mojo Lens augmented reality contact lens technology generated significant interest when launched as a prototype earlier this year.
Mojo Lens: Augmented Reality Contact Lenses
Mojo Vision claims its Mojo Lens is the first of its kind. If it can bring the technology to market at an acceptable price, it will undoubtedly create a significant market disruption.
The Mojo Lens augmented reality contact lenses are fitted with a built-in display, which lays single-color images, text, and symbols over the user’s natural fields of vision.
The display is specified to 14,000 pixels-per-inch (5,500 pixels-per-centimeter), and does not obstruct the user’s view, restrict mobility or get in the way of social interactions. It creates a unique experience for users, who will see the display even when their eyes are closed.
The augmented reality contact lenses also include motion sensors and image sensors. These transmit new inputs to an external pack through wireless radio frequencies.
This external pack contains the Mojo Lens device's brain, a powerful chip capable of processing image and motion data and showing useful information through the display.
The prototype Mojo Lens included a battery pack in the external device, which powered the augmented reality contact lenses wirelessly. However, Mojo Vision is currently exploring how future generations of the wearable technology can include on-board power.
Also in the pipeline for Mojo Vision is eye movement tracking functionality in the Mojo Lens device. This would enable users to control the device using eye movement gestures alone, allowing it to be used entirely imperceptibly.
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Applications for Augmented Reality Contact Lenses
Future applications for the Mojo Lens augmented reality contact lenses are extensive. Unobtrusive, seamless, and always-on augmented reality – which is what the Mojo Lens could enable – might fundamentally change the way we live.
Coupled with faster and smaller computing and plugged into the Internet-of-Things, augmented reality contact lenses could power real-time translation, experiential gaming and media, education, and social enhancements such as face-tagging and emotional cues.
Mojo Vision is exploring medical applications for its technology as a priority. The Mojo Lens provides real-time edge detection for low-vision people, adding crisp lines around objects seen through the display to enhance their natural sight.
The company is also working alongside the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired to develop more applications in this field.
The Mojo Lens is subject to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations and testing, regardless of its application. As a potential breakthrough technology with medical applications that would improve existing treatments, the FDA has included the Mojo Lens in its Breakthrough Devices Programme.
FDA experts will be available to Mojo Vision during the premarket review phase of FDA approval. This will help it finalize its submission faster and more effectively, and the FDA will also prioritize its review of Mojo Vision’s application.
Further clinical studies have been undertaken since the prototype augmented reality contact lenses were launched in January 2020, with more still underway.
Development Partnership with Menicon
To further advance its plans to bring augmented reality contact lenses to market, Mojo Vision has recently entered a development partnership with Japanese contact lens industry leader, Menicon.
Under the joint development agreement, both companies will conduct feasibility studies to design a cost-effective and practical manufacturing and production process. This is a necessary step for Mojo Vision. Its augmented reality contact lenses must be made using existing contact lens manufacturing equipment and techniques to enable mass production.
Menicon is the oldest and largest contact lens manufacturer in Japan with 70 years’ experience and 1,400 employees. It also claims to be the only dedicated contact lens business in the world.
As well as manufacturing lenses, Menicon also specializes in material development, lens design, rigid gas permeable lens technology, and care solutions. With the new partnership, Mojo Vision can now access decades of research into topics such as contact lens coatings and the relationship between contact lens devices and human biology.
Next Steps for Augmented Reality Contact Lenses
News of the partnership between Mojo Vision and Menicon will please investors, as it makes commercialization of the Mojo Lens augmented reality contact lenses much more likely.
There is also potential that the joint development agreement could develop into a manufacturing or production relationship between Mojo Vision and Menicon.
References and Further Reading
Perry, Tekla S. (2020) Augmented Reality in a Contact Lens: It’s the Real Deal. Spectrum. IEEE. [Online.] https://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/consumer-electronics/portable-devices/ar-in-a-contact-lens-its-the-real-deal
Takahashi, Dean (2020). Mojo Vision Teams Up with Optics Leader Menicon to Develop AR Contact Lenses. Venture Beat. [Online.] https://venturebeat.com/2020/12/08/mojo-vision-teams-up-with-optics-leader-menicon-to-develop-ar-contact-lenses/