Mojo Vision Demonstrates Prototype of Smart Contact Lens

After five years of work, California-based Mojo Vision demonstrated Mojo Lens, a smart contact lens that is still in research and development. For now, the demonstrations are via a virtual reality headset rather than an actual contact lens. But Mojo Vision’s goal is to create a means of “invisible computing,” which will provide an interface that enables consumers to reduce their use of screens. Co-founder/chief technology officer Mike Wiemer explains that Mojo Lens will be “very discreet.”

Wired reports that, “making smart contact lenses is no simple task,” noting that Alphabet’s Verily “had to refocus its Smart Lens program after hitting a few snags.” To create a smart lens requires sensors that “range from custom wireless radios to motion sensors for eye tracking and image stabilization.”

The Mojo Vision prototype features an embedded display with a screen “about the size of a dot from an ink pen,” which the company says is the “smallest, densest display ever made.” The Wired reviewer saw “text hovering over the real world … not dissimilar from [his] experience using augmented reality eyewear like Google Glass or Focals, the smart eyeglasses from North.”

With the current prototype, Mojo Lens is powered by a wearable worn on the wrist, but Wiemer said this might become “a smartphone-based solution.”

The reviewer reports that, “if you’re looking straight ahead while wearing the lens, you won’t see anything visually disrupting … but peek to a corner in any direction and you’ll see icons pop up, ranging from a calendar, weather, notifications, music playback, and more.” The wearer can expand the icons by staring at an arrow next to it, although it took the reviewer “about a minute to figure out how to navigate the interface.”

Mojo Vision vice president of medical devices Ashley Tuan said that, “the lens will sit right on the cornea.” In terms of safety, the team found that the lumens projection on the retina is “way under the regulation.”

“It’s a new form factor, but you as the wearer of this product, you just see content,” said Wiemer. “Just as you would see content if you held up a mobile phone or you put on a pair of glasses that made that content appear in the world … it’s just light on your retina, just like light on your retina right now.”

Mojo Vision will first market its smart contact lens to “people who are visually impaired or have low vision … because all contact lenses, smart or dumb, need to clear the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S.” The FDA already granted Mojo Lens a “Breakthrough Device Designation, which allows companies to fast-track development, assessment, and review for products that could help people with life-threatening or debilitating conditions.”

The reviewer was able to try out these capabilities in a “dark hotel room” and a prototype Mojo Lens with an image sensor connected to it,” and declared the results “impressive.” Mojo Vision partnered with “the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Palo Alto, California, to connect with the nonprofit’s clients and get input for the lenses during development.”