Invisible Computing: Mojo Vision Is Developing an AR Contact Lens

California startup Mojo Vision, a 2020 NASA iTech Cycle 1 winner, is developing an AR contact lens.

Mojo Vision is developing the ultimate hands-free device: an AR contact lens. (Image courtesy of Mojo Vision.)

Mojo Vision is developing the ultimate hands-free device: an AR contact lens. (Image courtesy of Mojo Vision.)

Imagine scrolling through notes, checking the weather or a favorite app all with a slight turn of the eye. Although such a device isn’t on the market quite yet, Mojo Vision, a California startup, is developing an augmented reality (AR) contact lens that might make that possible. The company refers to its works as invisible computing, enabling users a truly hands-free experience to access data whenever they want it.

Although in development for a few years, the project has gained the attention of NASA. The Mojo Lens was named a winner of the 2020 NASA iTech Cycle 1. As one of three winners, the company will benefit from NASA expert mentorship, commercialization and development guidance, and more opportunities to meet with investors.

“This is an opportunity that not many tech startups get to experience, and it’s exciting to know that our technology could one day be used during future NASA missions,” said Drew Perkins, Mojo Vision CEO and cofounder. “We still have plenty of work to do in the development of Mojo Lens, but our selection by NASA demonstrates a clear desire for innovation in augmented reality and heads-up computing, particularly for space exploration.”

NASA iTech is focused on discovering the latest innovations that can help both on Earth and with space exploration. The ability to access vital data without the added distractions of physical tools could be a vital component of future NASA missions. Mojo Vision is working on a lens that could be used in an Artemis xEMU space suit helmet. It would provide overlays within the natural vision field without obstructing eyesight.

Back on Earth, the AR lens has a range of benefits aimed at reducing screen time. This lens is being designed for an interface to pop up when a user is looking out of the corner of their eye, enabling them to see the latest notifications without the added hassle or interruptions.

“It’s a new form factor, but you as the wearer of this product, you just see content,” Wiemer said. “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—from the perspective of your body and your retina—it’s just light on your retina. The safety implications of this are something that we obviously paid a lot of attention to, but it’s a very safe product.”

Creating the technology is taking time, but the company continues its forward momentum. Challenges have included developing the correct-sized image and motion sensors, which include wireless radios and image stabilizing ones, as well as figuring out how to power the device. The current prototype is powered through a wearable, which is worn on the wrist and also does the computing. The research team is also exploring the use of smartphone-based solutions for power. The lens, which is designed like a normal contact lens but with the added AR perks, can also come with a prescription lens.

Although space exploration and making things easier are benefits, the company’s main focus is on providing a new option for people with visual impairment. The sensors help create a clearer picture of the real world, such as with highlighted edges or magnified objects, which would make navigating surroundings much easier.

Interested in more AR/VR innovations? Check out Augmented Reality Is Used in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery and Apple May Be Working on a Self-Driving Car Featuring Controlled Doors and VR System.