What do you think will happen if you could time travel and show the smartphones to people in the 1960s?
They might freak out. They probably wouldn’t believe it. They’d sooner believe if you said we colonized the moon or mars. This is how fast computers have developed —and it’s just the beginning. Take AI— current estimates value the global industry around $39.9 billion, and it’s expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42.2% from 2020 to 2027.
Every year computer chips are getting smaller, Samsung is working on a 3nm chip; Flexible displays are already available, and the flexible battery is already under R&D. This is perfect for AR lenses, the next frontier of augmented reality.
The first AR lenses
Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information.
Augmented reality is already out there—you can try it out yourself using Hololens, Google glasses, Epson glasses, and many other smart glasses.
The next step is the AR lens.
AR lens sits right on your eyes as a regular prescription lens and can enhance your vision of the world. Unlike clunky smart glasses, they don’t make you look like a cyborg coming out of Sci-Fi.
A California-based startup is already working on such a device. Mojo vision is the company behind the mojo lens, the device can display relevant information to the wearer's eyes as needed. The catch is, as of now, it requires an external processor and battery to run.
The startup named the lenses “Mojo” because it wants to build something that’s like getting superpowers for your eyes.
The lens comprises a 14,000 pixel per inch display, 300 times greater than today’s smartphone displays. The current display in the Mojo lens is 0.48mm in size and has a resolution of 305*305 pixels.
Your smartphone has a lot more pixel than this, but remember, the lenses sit right on your eyes.
Mojo has secured over $100M from investors such as Advantech Capital, HP tech ventures, Stanford StartX, and others. They have also received the Breakthrough Devices Program by the FDA, which will make the review process of the device faster.
Initially, the company aims at solving vision impairment problems before making it available for regular customers. This includes overlaying images over vision, zooming into the vision, enhancing the field of view, and recognizing different people and objects.
Once these functionalities are tried and tested, the next phase is to roll out the version with more features for regular customers.
It would enable us to view notifications, directions, clock, and a lot of details about the environment if we want. It can also enable night vision capabilities, easily identify people and objects, and learn more about them.
All of this without ever taking out your phone or doing anything at all.
The later version of the product may include an eye-tracking sensor, processor, a day-long battery, communications chip, and may be powered from a wearable device that can also provide internet.
These components have already been tested outside the lens, the only thing left is to put all of it together, which is the trickiest part.
But the device may be available sooner than you expect. The display already works and you can put it in your eyes safely; Mojo has support from the FDA and other major investors. AR revolution is right in the corner; Apple, Facebook, Microsoft are all developing AR products, the competition could speed up the development of the lens.
Why Mojo will succeed
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Google, Snapchat, and Microsoft have all failed to bring AR to regular customers. Google glass was very limited and had privacy issues; Spectacles by Snapchat was limited in features; and well, you cannot carry a gigantic Hololens on your head for 16 hours.
These limitations are not present in the Mojo lens because of its design.
Mojo lens is not easily visible by others, so it does not make you look like a cyborg, rather you would feel like James Bond. Looks are the major reason smart glasses fail. Smart glasses make you look different from others around you, and people feel insecure around a camera that can record you all the time.
The lens has a tiny display and does not get in the way when you don’t want it. It feels just like normal contact lenses and you wouldn’t even notice it when not in use.
The purpose of the lens is not to replace your phone- at least not yet- but to remove the friction of taking out your phone and the distraction it causes. Smartphone has a good immersive experience, it takes us away from the actual world. This is exactly what Mojo does not want to do. It is an AR company, so their goal is to combine both the worlds.
The future of UI is AR. It will be the final user interface before the Neuralink.
Is it just the beginning of the cyborg revolution? There are already a lot of wearable devices, from smart glasses to smart clothes.
The only reason they are not popular is because of the fear of technology, the fear it will make you look different — like a robot.
But it will soon change.
As technology progresses, chips and batteries are getting smaller and flexible, while becoming more powerful. Neuralink recently showed its prototype where the chip was concealed in a pig’s body. Although we are far from a working Neuralink for humans, it is a huge leap in invisible computing.
Invisible computing will make technology more socially acceptable.
Another reason is our fear of being left out. Everyone wants a competitive advantage, and no one wants to feel left out.
Imagine working in an office where everyone can use their laptop, but you can only have a pen and paper. You will have a significant disadvantage. This will be the case when early adopters get their hands on Mojo lens or Neuralink and you wouldn't want to be left behind.
You will have to change to be competitive in such a situation.
This technology may seem scary at first, but it a double-edged sword—it depends on how you use it.