Mojo Vision, a startup based in Saratoga, California, seeks to improve the lives of people living with vision loss by launching a smart contact lens that can overlay information about the real world and increase what you see the carrier.
The market for the portable eye enhancement industry has seen a significant pace in the last five years after the widespread adoption of the smartphone, which has led to rapid advances in mini camera and screen technologies.
However, both manufacturers and consumers remain the subject of an eternal compromise between form and functionality.
Virtual reality style headphones provide compelling but socially undesirable viewing experiences and restrict wearer mobility.
Slimline smart glasses, on the other hand, may not always offer the immersion and advanced optics needed to significantly improve low vision.
Using the Mojo Lens device, Mojo Vision seeks to overcome both technical hurdles from one step to the next and help realize a decades-long dream for the visually impaired: to have an invisible prosthesis that can be worn all day.
Due to the immense technical complexity, Mojo Lens is still in the research and development phase.
See the overview
However, there has been rapid progress since the company’s launch in 2015 and so far $ 160 million has been raised in venture capital investments such as NEA, Khosla Ventures, Gradient Ventures (which is part of of the Google AI organization) and Motorola Solutions. technology.
Silicon Valley sponsors have had their interest aroused because improving low vision is considered just the beginning of the journey through Mojo Lens, with a number of additional applications for industrial and conventional consumers considered eminently feasible.
These can range from health monitoring to manufacturing and medical and emergency services, while some industry analysts suggest that augmented reality (RA) and virtual reality (VR) solutions will increasingly use the relief of smartphones and desktop computers in the coming years.
The delightful and disturbing potential of the technology led to Mojo Vision winning the latest permanent gadget award at CES 2021.
Currently, the company’s main focus remains an improvement in low vision and there are key strategic and moral motivations.
The current iteration of the device deploys a microelectronic LED display, a computer vision image sensor and motion sensors, as well as a low-power wireless radio.
They are then combined with a computational package that is used around the neck, known as a relay, to carry the heavy load involved in data processing and content transmission to the target.
Anything that involves placing an electronic device directly in the eye naturally requires significant regulatory oversight.
Therefore, by choosing to initially focus on low-vision rehabilitation, the company, which last year announced a joint development agreement with Medicon, Japan’s largest contact lens maker, has been able to join the US Food and Drug Administration’s Advanced Devices Program.
This should streamline the regulatory process by prioritizing the treatment of a condition identified as irreversibly debilitating.
Initially, the device’s vision enhancement options will be fairly basic, but will be useful for visually impaired people in a variety of situations.
The main features will be contrast, lighting and edge enhancements, such as curbs or entrances.
It is also possible to enlarge and reduce the image, but the screen of the first version of the contact lens will be monochrome. This will be useful for quick point-checking tasks, such as augmenting text, but will not yet generate full immersion in the scene.
The company expects this calculation to come down once the initial functionality is rigorously tested.
Dr. Ashley Tuan is an optometrist with a special interest in low vision and serves as vice president of medical devices for Mojo Vision.
“In the near future, we will have a color screen for the device,” Tuan says.
“Battery life and screen resolution will also improve. This will give the user a discreet but immersive experience and help people with visual impairments maximize their visual function and be the person they want to be. ”
Another clear advantage of the small form factor of the device and its proximity to the eye is the superior eye tracking capability derived from having a motion sensor directly at the lens.
This will be useful, not only to identify what the wearer is looking at, but for health surveillance purposes, including the detection of concussions, the onset of migraines, and the progression of chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s.
To make sure contact lenses will be more than just sticky and provide real-world benefits for people with vision loss, last year Mojo Vision announced a partnership with Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Disable, a non-profit organization based in Palo Alto offering rehabilitation services.
“Within the next twelve months, we hope to test our prototypes in patients with low vision,” says Tuan.
“We want to build a control system and a very natural user interface for this group. This will be conceived based on patient feedback to create a highly usable experience. “
Insinuating what this may entail, he further adds, “We want to stay away from an external control interface, so we’re looking at both eye control based on the direction the user moves their eyes and the control of see also.
“We have a lot of concepts in mind, so we plan for low-vision patients to evaluate them and tell us if we’re going in the right direction.”
These user tests will probably prove indispensable as Mojo Vision brings augmented reality to unknown territory.
It is currently believed that all electronic equipment to aid vision loss, as well as consumer technology products developed by Google or Apple, are designed to be used externally.
The use of a contact lens logically implies an all-day use. Therefore, for people with low vision, it will not only be about seeing more of the world, but also about learning to interact in new and exciting ways.