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HomeNewsContact Lenses to Replace Smartphone Screen with Augmented Reality Technology

Contact Lenses to Replace Smartphone Screen with Augmented Reality Technology

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If what you only notice wherever you go are people looking at their phones, sooner this is going to change when humans would no longer stare at their smartphones. This would be made possible with augmented reality where you would be able to see both matters of the real and digital worlds hovering over your eyes.

The mission of Mojo Vision

Dozens of engineers are working relentlessly in a mundane office space in Saratoga, California to realize this future. They are bringing out prototypes of smart contact lenses with tiny batteries, circuits, and displays incorporated into them. Every week.

The famous tech journalist Parmy Olson wrote, “When I visited Mojo Vision’s office in July, I held its augmented reality smart contact lens about an inch in front of my eye to try out its features, shifting a cursor around the space in front of me by moving the lens. Since I couldn’t wear the contact lens, I used a virtual reality headset to test its eye-tracking technology and demo apps, directing a small cursor by simply moving my eye. I could read from a digital teleprompter that displayed a series of words as I moved my eye, and I could also look around the room to see arrows pointing north and west, designed to help eventual users with navigation outdoors.”

She added further, “To “click” on one of the apps dotted around a circle that hovered in front of me, I simply looked at a small tab next to the app for an extra second. Numbers and text appeared in my upper field of view, showing, say, my cycling speed, displaying the weather, or giving me information on an upcoming flight. To close the app, I’d look away from that information for a full second.”

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Watch this YouTube video for a better understanding:

Parmy Olson’s view

Technologists have always wondered about the upcoming computing platform. A decade after smart devices replaced desktop computers as the primary gateway to the mighty Internet, Mark Zuckerberg, Meta CEO, has high hopes for the metaverse. It is a fully immersive virtual world entered through a headset.

However, according to Olson, “But I think the bigger shift will be to augmented reality, where glasses or contact lenses display information on the world around us so we can see both the online and real-world at once. If there is one thing that humans love doing (albeit badly in many cases) it’s multitasking.” She also wrote, “Phones will become more like mini servers that coordinate all the different devices we’ll increasingly wear on our bodies: earbuds, watches, and soon eyewear, the latest piece in the puzzle of invisible computing.”

Mojo Vision is one of the pioneers in this sector and its lenses are a marvel in the field of engineering. The development of such lenses is perhaps among the most ambitious hardware projects of today in Silicon Valley. The company developed its plastic compounds and chemicals to allow the eyeballs to breathe through the lenses which are understandably stuffed with electronics. Parmy observed, “When I held the lens in my hand, it was noticeably thick, and large enough to extend beyond the iris to cover parts of the whites of the eyes.”

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Experts speak

However, as per the senior director of product management of this startup, David Hobbs, they are not uncomfortable. He has worn several such prototypes before making this comment.

Unimaginably, the lens includes nine titanium batteries like the ones found in pacemakers normally. It also has a flexible circuit board slimmer than a strand of human hair. These are meant to provide power and data to the lens. There is a slightly convex mirror as well that bounces light off a minute reflector thereby simulating a telescope to magnify the pixels packed into just two micros, 0.002 mm approximately.

Olson remarked, “From a few feet away, that tiny display looks like a pinprick of light. But when I looked through the lens more closely, I could watch a video of Baby Yoda, an image as crisp and engaging as any video I’d seen on a screen.”

She added, “I could imagine people watching TikTok videos on this one day, but Mojo Vision wants the lens to have practical uses.” The senior vice president of product and marketing, Steve Sinclair, said that the information that they display to the eye should be “very tight, fast, quick snippets.” Sinclair who worked for the product team at Apple Inc. previously said that the company is trying to figure out “how much information is too much information.”

Mojo Vision is presently working on a lens for visually impaired people. It displays glowing, digital edges overlaid on things to make seeing them easier. The company is also testing interfaces with other companies that develop skiing, golfing, and running apps for smartphones to offer a novel hands-free activity display.

Please read: Xiaomi Reveals Mijia Smart Glasses, Price & Features

Steve assured if regulatory holdups do not be a deterrent, people can purchase a bespoke Mojo lens within five years from now. Well, this could be an ambitious promise to live up to within the mentioned timeline taking into account the delays in other augmented reality projects. We should not also forget Google Glass that could not live up to the hype.

All about failed, current and upcoming devices

Even Alphabet Inc, Google’s parent company, failed to bring a smart contact lens for medical use. However, nothing seems to hinder the steps of these big tech firms toward developing augmented and virtual reality. As per a report by Bloomberg News, Apple is developing lightweight augmented-reality glasses with plans to release them by the end of this decade.

Next year Apple would probably introduce a mixed-reality headset, which has been shown to its board of directors in May. Currently, the market for the virtual-reality device is ruled by Facebook with its Quest 2 headset. As per a report by Verge, Facebook is gearing to introduce its first-ever augmented-reality glasses in the year 2024.

Also read: Is Apple Ahead of Meta in the VR & AR Battle?

The million-dollar question and its answer

Olson seemed to have a question, “Why is augmented reality taking longer?” She answered it too, “Because it melds digital elements with physical objects in a view that is constantly moving. That’s a complex task that requires a lot of processing power. Even so, our desire to keep at least one foot in the real world means we’re likely to spend more time in augmented reality in the long run.”

She exclaimed, “The big question is how to balance being present in real life while constantly seeing digital information. Today, it takes a few seconds to take out a phone, launch an app and carry out a task on its screen. In the future, we’ll be able to enter an app simply by looking at it for an extra second. That will throw up all kinds of thorny issues around addiction and how we interact with the world around us.”

Steve had the same question on his mind when he was working on the iPhone years ago. “I can’t say how we at Mojo are going to completely mitigate that,” Sinclair said. He added, “But the trend is moving in that direction, that people are going to have instant access to information.”

Whether we would be introduced to glasses or contact lenses, there would be a vast world reeling in more digital information and the human eyes would point towards that. Thus, our brains have to get used to a lot of things of course if one wants it that way.

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