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2020-05-10

Mojo Vision works to make AR lenses a reality

Image:-Mojo AR

Steve Sinclair, the senior product and marketing vice president at a Silicon Valley startup called Mojo Vision, is excited about the technology that his company is developing. And he's betting that you're also going to be excited - so excited that you're going to forget everything about the fact that using it requires you to press two tiny screens against your eyeballs.

If what Mojo planned to do works, each day sticking a piece of tech directly on your eyes will be as minor a drawback as your smartphone will make your pocket a few ounces heavier.

"When we pitch this to an investor, they know a little bit about what you're going to show them, because without some of that info they wouldn't take the meeting," Sinclair told Digital Trends. "But when you hand them a lens, which we put on the end of a little stick [for the demo], and they bring it up and we light it so that they can see content close to their eyes in the lens, that's when their jaws usually drop off. People are blown away, just kind of. It's like, 'I've seen you say you can do that, the slide [presentation] says you can. But I'm looking at it now - and it works.'"

As you might have guessed Mojo Vision makes contact lenses for smart augmented reality. Or rather, when it is ready to ship a product, it will make smart, augmented reality contact lenses. For now the technology is still being developed and the money raised. Tons of money. It announced in early May that it has raised an additional $51 million to build its inaugural product, the Mojo Lens. This is on top of the already raised (at least) $108 million, bringing its total cash haul to nearly $160 million.

And if it can do what the company claims it can, then that money will be well spent on venture dollars.

"Mojo Lens is an intelligent contact lens with an integrated display which gives you timely information without interrupting your focus," explains Sinclair. "It's all about raising your vision by providing information exactly when you need it, letting you look like yourself all the while."

This last part is one of the biggest reasons why people are excited about the Augmented Reality (AR) vision of Mojo Lens, which seeks to expand our perception of the physical world by adding layers of digital information on top.

Increased reality is, promise the experts, impending fourth computing platform, an epoch that is waiting to happen. In computing, paradigm shifts occurred approximately every fifteen years: personal computers in the early 1980s, the internet revolution of the mid-1990s, the mobile era in 2007. Such shifts shake up both the technologically feasible and the companies that can benefit from it. The much-cited Innovator's Dilemma by the late Clayton Christensen suggests that enmeshed giants often miss out on disruptive innovation because they are so locked in what they do. They fail to see the breaking of the wave until they are ready to be dragged away.

In the case of AR, the incumbents of tech do their best not to miss the swells of water which threaten to erupt into a wave. Google Glass was an early attempt to capitalize on the dreams of this augmented reality. Apple, for its part, has its own head-up display with ARKit and scores of patents. Microsoft does have HoloLens. Then there's Snapchat's Spectacles, Magic Leap (which got a big injection of Google Money), and so forth.

But despite this frenzied FOMO funding, nobody has actually nailed the perfect factor for AR yet. Walking around the world, holding a smartphone in front of our faces to see increased layers of information, is impractical. And while many companies are building AR glasses, none of them has yet delivered such a compelling device that it is signaling the way forward. In short, nobody's built AR's iPhone yet.

That all sounds spectacular. Of course the question is when it will be available to customers. An idea that sounds enticing does not guarantee that a finished product works as well as it is hoped. The Sirens were dangerous enchantresses in Greek mythology luring sailors with their melodious voices, only for the ships to wind up dashed onto the rocks. Based on the hundreds of millions that starstruck venture capitalists have poured into AR so far, with comparatively little to show for it, it is possible to imagine the Siren technology of the 2020s being augmented reality.

There are certainly plenty of potential issues that could beset augmented reality startups - including Mojo Vision. Some of these are technical hurdles to overcome, either on the engineering side or things like having Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it as safe. Others are related to compelling use cases, and building a community of developers that gets behind a particular product. Others will require the public to embrace the technology in large enough quantities, beyond a few early enthusiasts, to be able to cross the chasm of user adoption.

Some things just won't be clear until the Mojo Lens is ready for shipment. Will people be willing to put a hard lens of contact over their eyes to get experiences of the state-of-the-art augmented reality? Will people be freaked about the implications of wearables that seem more or less invisible in terms of privacy? All of this currently remains unclear.

One thing that is not up for question is that there is an impressive team behind Mojo Vision. The CEO of the firm, Drew Perkins, has worked on the concept for years. The project's employees include veterans from Apple, Amazon, Google, HP, Microsoft, Motorola and many others. According to Sinclair, the initial rollout of the smart contact lenses will focus on helping people with visual impairment, followed by more enterprise-specific demonstrations such as first responders. Mojo Vision will only target a consumer product after these two groups have shown their support.

That is where it ultimately plans to go - and certainly where the largest market lies. There was no announced launch date for this, but Sinclair says, "It's not something that's either 10 or 20 years away." So keep your eyes peeled.

Article Edited by | John Heine |

Jhon is an incredibly talented freelance writer. He has been working of about 18 months as a reporter for some internet based print-based newspapers. He brings together significant news reports from the Technology and entertainment areas. we hope you're doing well if you see any inappropriate phrases please let us know on our contact page at the bottom. thank you!    .

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