Published on January 16th, 2020 | by Emergent Enterprise0
Augmented Reality Contacts are Real, and Could be Here Sooner Than You Think
Augmented reality devices have always had some UX problems. Smartphones or tablets have to be held and AR smartglasses are rarely comfortable. Karissa Bell at Mashable reports about an alternative future AR form factor: the contact lens. Although still in the prototype stage, the AR contact lens would solve many UX issues (and certainly create a few) and deliver that scenario where info is presented in our field of view whenever we want. And, without any unwieldy hardware. This is going to happen. It’s just a question on who will be the first.
Photo credit: Mojo Vision
I’m standing in a Las Vegas hotel suite and I’ve just gotten a glimpse at the future seemingly every spy movie has promised: contact lenses with tiny built-in displays that beam information directly into your eyes.
They’re the product of Mojo Vsion, a startup that’s been quietly working on augmented reality contact lenses. Though the company says a consumer-ready product is still years away, it’s showing off its AR tech for the first time as part of its vision to one day replace the smartphone.
Behind it all is what the startup calls “invisible computing,” the idea that information will appear seamlessly around us as we want it, rather than via smartphone screens.
“It’s a display, so you can put whatever information you want to see on it,” says the company’s vice president of product and marketing, Steve Sinclair. “It could be as simple as notifications, like you get on your Apple Watch. But it can be as complex as as anything that fits into the real world and gives context to the real world, which I think is what people expect when they talk about AR.”
I recently had the opportunity to try out some early versions of Mojo Vision’s lenses, and I was surprised at how far along the technology is. In one demo, I held a prototype lens up to my eye and watched a video of a cyclist while heart rate and other details were overlaid onto the video. As AR content goes, it was fairly rudimentary, but the fact that this was all happening via a contact lens that was only a bit thicker than the ones I wear every day was impressive.
Mojo Vision isn’t the only company betting on an AR-powered future, though it appears to be farther along than its competitors. Samsung has patented smart contact lens concepts. Apple is reportedly working on an augmented reality headset, as well as AR glasses that could one day replace the iPhone. Facebook is also working on AR glasses, but has indicated the project is still in the early research stage.