This article comes from the WeChat official account: Fast Company FastCompany (ID: FCChinese) , author: FCChinese, title figure from: original

When you bring Mojo ’s augmented reality (AR) contact lenses, you will see what you see in front of you and what you normally see There is almost no difference. However, if you look over the corner, you will see a small weather forecast icon displayed, which can provide local weather information and future forecasts for the day. Looking back at 9 o’clock, there is a pocket-sized traffic icon. Through the operation instructions, a simple map will pop up with the driving route of the travel destination you need. At 12 o’clock, there is a schedule and task list. Move your eyes down again, you will find a music remote control button …

The AR contact lenses that integrate the above scenarios are not yet commercially available. That is a brand-new augmented reality product designed by Silicon Valley startup Mojo Vision. It is in the research and development stage. Once launched, it is expected to become the world ’s first true smart contact lens. Although no products have been released yet (and terminal products may not be available in the next 2-3 years) , Mojo ’s product ideas are better than those on the market Many AR / VR helmets seem to be closer to consumers: you do n’t need to wear extra fancy smart hardware, but embed related technologies into the contact lenses you will use. Venture capitalists, including institutions such as Google and Stanford, seem to be paying more attention to this maverick interactive interface-after all, considering that the number of AR / VR front waves who have died on the beach in recent years can not be counted-this In April, the company still received $ 51 million in new financing, bringing its total financing to more than $ 159 million.

MojThe concept of o is also a major trend of consumer hardware in the future: in the next ten years, the computing devices we use will become more personal. What do you mean? You can understand that it is not a dream to be closer to our body or even directly embedded in the lower layer of the skin. The eyes are a potential entrance. In fact, technology giants including Facebook and Apple are also testing head-mounted AR glasses. But Mojo Vision skips this step completely and wants to reach your pupils directly.

Mojo ’s design is based on practicality, not all kinds of frivolous fancy. [Image source: courtesy of Mojo]

Is not good, ambitious

Mojo Vision was founded in 2015, but its core technology “invisible computing” (invisible computing) dates back to 2008. Just like the name of this technology, the company has been quite secret in its research and development for the past few years, and only a small amount of news about its technology and products came out early this year. “We are pretty sure about this product,” said Steve Sinclair, (Steve Sinclair) , Senior Vice President of Product and Marketing at Mojo. Once worked in Apple for 7 years, mainly responsible for iPhone product planning. “We finally stringed the different links together, and it worked.” Sinclair told Fast Company.

The establishment of Mojo Vision started with two poorly sighted founders who have been deeply involved in the field of technology for many years, especially eye-based technology development. Founder and CEO Drew Perkins (Drew Perkins) Co-founded Infineon (Infinera, listed on NASDAQ in 2007) as early as 2000 . He also founded three other companies. In 2012, when he was the CEO of one of the companies Gainspeed, he had cataracts. Although he had surgery, he could not return to his normal vision. This experience prompted him to think, how to use optical technology to help improve vision? The day he sent his son to college, he decided to do it! Subsequently, he sold Gainspeed to Nokia, took a rest for a year, and then began to tinker with his “super vision” career.

At this time, he met Michael Dilling who was a senior engineer at Sun Microsystems (Note: later acquired by Oracle) class = “text-remarks” label = “Remarks”> (Michael Deering) . When Dilling left Sun in 2001, he already had considerable technical achievements in the fields of artificial intelligence, computer vision, 3D graphics and virtual reality. Because of his poor eyesight, he spent nearly ten years researching a miniature display that can be rooted in the retina or embedded in contact lenses. Eventually, his research made a breakthrough in 2008 and applied for a series of patents.

Perkins and Dilling hit it off.

CEO Drew Perkins (left) and Chief Scientist Michael Dilling (right) [Image source: courtesy of Mojo]

EyeWhat is hidden in the mirror?

There is a small spot on the retina of the eye called the fovea (fovea) , the fovea occupies only 4% -5% of the size of the retina , But contains most of the nerve endings of the retina. Its rich photoreceptor cells convert light into electrochemical signals, which are then transmitted to different visual centers of the brain through the optic nerve. Combining this physiological feature, Mojo’s display screen mainly focuses light on the fovea that can most produce high-definition pixels, and a large number of photoreceptor cells in the fovea can save electricity and light energy for the display.

Mojo Vision ’s demonstration of the “Fast Company” microdisplay is only about 0.5 mm in diameter, but the pixel density has reached 70,000 ppi. It’s so small that it’s hardly noticeable to the naked eye, but when looking at it with a microscope, there is really a picture on the display: Einstein is sticking his tongue at you. In the first generation of products, the company will pay more attention to functionality rather than aesthetics. After all, we do not need multiple high-definition images to assist in tasks such as checking weather forecasts.

On a sand-sized display, Einstein is sticking his tongue at you. [Image source: courtesy of Mojo]

In addition to the display screen, Mojo’s lenses also contain a series of auxiliary micro-elements. The initial version will have a single-threaded processor and image sensor, and the subsequent iteration will also add an eye tracking sensor and voice control chip. In terms of charging, the contact lens will use a solid battery, which is said to be able to support all day, and needs to be charged in a box like an AirPods headset. But with the gradual improvement of the product, Sinclair said Mojo will go in the direction of wireless charging. In terms of networking, some of Mojo ’s operational functions (such as sending and receiving data) require a network provided by a smartphone or other device.

Test water AR

In November 2019, “Fast Company” visited Mojo Vision’s headquarters in California and saw that their team was developing a function for firefighters. At that time, a VR helmet was needed to substitute the experience of firefighters. Putting on the helmet, I saw a burning building. The glasses quickly located the burning room and outlined the table and chairs in the room with yellow lines. At the same time, I can see where other firefighters are, even if they are separated from me by a wall. The top of the glasses shows a series of data, including the amount of oxygen in my tank, signal strength, etc. Then a warning message was lit, informing me that I could retreat.

“This AR interface can help firefighters to fully grasp their situation. When they are busy fighting fires, they do not have to take out their mobile phones to obtain important information related to the scene.” Xin, Vice President of Product and Marketing Claire said.

Steve Sinclair, Senior Vice President of Product and Marketing [Source: Provided by Mojo]

Mojo ’s focus on firefighter use scenarios began with an exchange with Motorola Solutions ’ (Motorola Solutions) The scene is a major communications technology provider, and the company is also one of Mojo’s investors. But the cooperation between the two is more than that. According to Sinclair, Mojo and Motorola Solutions have jointly developed the functions and information required for AR contact lenses for firefighters. In addition, Motorola Solutions is currently in contact with the US Department of Defense. Expand military applications for Mojo’s AR glasses.

The service industry is also a major application scenario for Mojo AR glasses. For example, the hotel front desk can quickly learn about the person who just entered the door by wearing the contact lensWho is the customer and greet him in time.

In the consumer terminal, Mojo may be more suitable for life than work. For example, you just got off the plane and carried your luggage in both hands. The contact lenses you brought directly showed you the Uber car you booked; For example, if someone rings your doorbell, you can immediately know who is standing outside through the lens.

Mojo ’s product evolution timetable [Image source: courtesy of Mojo]

For the first batch of glasses that are expected to go public in 2-3 years, the company revealed that it mainly targets people with visual impairments—according to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 285 million visually impaired people in the world. According to reports, this contact lens is suitable for people with different types of vision deterioration such as presbyopia. “We can be used as a tool to help people in need travel conveniently,” Ashley Tuan, Vice President of Mojo Medical Devices (transliteration, Ashley Tuan) If so. For example, Mojo ’s lens can detect distant road signs and clearly display them on the display screen; it can magnify the object image or place it on the part of the retina that has not been damaged to help the user see clearly; Strengthen the difference between the light and dark colors of the object image to improve the degree of recognition.

How deep is the water?

At present, the company will continue to focus on its vision assistance technology and application in vertical fields, but it seems that it is not so optimistic to become a mainstream AR product. Almost every company that does augmented reality or mixed reality will run the B-end market first. It is now difficult to imagine the B-end customer’s contact lens as a carrier (compared to For other take-out glasses or helmets) to what extent will the acceptance go. Although AR is widelyWidely touted as “the next computing interface” (the next computing interface), but you do n’t know I do n’t know when and how this will happen Way to come true, or can it really come true.

“Other companies are now betting on helmets, at least one company has jumped out to study contact lenses.” Tom Mainley, analyst at IDG Ventures (TomMainelli) said, “It is precisely such a person who is doing different attempts before we can achieve a breakthrough.”

“We have conducted in-depth testing of each component. At this stage, the most difficult problem is to combine different components and put them into the lens to produce a synergistic effect.” Sinclair said.

[Image source: courtesy of Mojo]

Sinclair said that every pair of Mojo contact lenses has a vision enhancement function. In order to meet the specific needs of some vertical fields, customized augmented reality functions can also be embedded. The company is now more concerned about the development of vision assistance (visionassistance) function, which has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved, and joined FDA ’s breakthrough equipment project (Breakthrough Devices Program) , Currently waiting for approval to be included in the classification of medical equipment.

Except FDAThe huge challenge of authentication, Mojo’s popularity also needs to consider the inescapable topic of data privacy. Users not only entrust their pupils to a commercial company, but also have relevant data from them. For example, if your eyes are always attracted to certain objects, is it too convenient for advertisers? Sinclair promised that in addition to “remembering” human faces (for quick identification next time, but only for short-term storage) No user data records will be kept, nor will it be shared with third parties. As a person who once worked at Apple, which “highly pays attention to privacy”, Sinclair said: “First of all, we have to make sure that this is a safe product. It has enough ability to protect users ‘privacy and is worthy of users’ trust.” < / p>

However, who knows? The public’s “privacy problem” in the technology industry is also an evolving process of cognition. After all, the speed of development in the digital age is too fast.

This article comes from the WeChat public account: Fast Company FastCompany (ID: FCChinese) < / a> , author: FCChinese