Augmented Reality Contact Lenses

This segment is from Episode 308 of the Beyond Social Media Show

Podcast Transcript

David Erickson: This is from a Digital Trends article by Luke Dormehl, who reports about a company called Mojo Vision, which is developing smart augmented reality contact lenses.

BL Ochman: Cool.

DE: So yeah, it looks cool. In early May, they announced that they had raised an extra 51 million to build on top of the 108 million they had already raised, where they’ve got total cash infusion of 160 million. So there are people investing in it, they’re taking, taking this idea seriously. So that’s why I don’t discount it out of hand. But this is not a product yet. It’s still in development.

But the problem with widespread adoption, I mean, we talked about augmented reality a lot on the show. But the problem with widespread adoption of AR is the form factor. You know, it’s to get the full fact you need a headset, and the headset is an impediment for people to adopt it broadly. One, it’s just another piece of hardware you need to carry around–

BL: Because over your eyes.

DE: It goes over your eyes. You look weird. So there’s a social factor. That’s the social dynamic that gets in the way. With contact lenses, obviously, they’re unobtrusive. They’re not another piece of hardware or thing that you need to wear. People don’t know that you have them on. So there’s a social stigma that is taken away–or social awkwardness at the very least, it’s taken away. So the form factors around the contact lenses obviously could change that. The article cites Mark Weisner, who was a former Chief Technologist at Xerox PARC and an article he wrote in 1991 about ubiquitous computing. Which, I like immediately took notice, because I read that paper back probably in 1992. And it is the paper that kind of the–I read it and got excited about it kind of sent me down this career path of technology and communications. But in it one of the quotes from the article is “the most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.” And that’s what, you know, that’s the promise of this, of AR contact lenses. They need to…AR needs to be unintrusive and even invisible until you need it. And headsets make that impossible, right. So this company is working on developing that, getting over that barrier.

Steve Sinclair is Senior Vice President of Product and marketing is quoted in the article saying: “We’re building what we are pretty confident is going to be the best eye-tracking in the world because we’re building all the motion sensors for the tracking, for tracking your eyes on the lens itself. So it’s not like Google Glass, a camera looking at your eyeballs, the motion tracking is in the lens itself. So “We’re not a camera looking at the eye trying to figure out where it’s going. We’re on the eye and we know exactly where it’s moving. That gives us a huge advantage as far as, as control is concerned.” They’re building the camera into the lens. They’re building, they’ve got the I, the motion sensing, so they know what you’re looking at. They know what you’re focusing on. And they’re building on putting the battery in the lens, as well. So it’s not, so it’s got Wi Fi, it’s got the battery and a lot of different technological things that they’re trying to solve. They get a bunch of very talented people to to solve it. The CEO–his name is Drew Perkins–has spent years working on the concept and employees for this company include veterans from Apple, Amazon, Google, HP, Microsoft, Motorola and countless others. Sinclair, the VP Senior VP of Marketing, he alone has worked for Apple, Google and HP. This is not a project yet, probably three to five years…in the, before it’s released to the public. They’re gonna focus on industrial uses first before they had a consumer product, but when that comes about, it’ll be pretty significant. So I think, you know, AR has a fine future; it’s just not immediate.

BL: Well, I’m trying to think when this was, but quite a while back we talked about Google having contact lenses that could tell your insulin level if you were diabetic.

DE: Yep.

BL: And but I wore contact lenses from when I was 15. And I wore hard lenses until a couple of years ago. And when you wear hard contact lenses, you have to build a scar tissue on the inside of your eyelid.

DE: And this would likely be hard….

BL: Yeah. And and so the idea of, for you know, I remember the breaking in period of you could wear them for 15 minutes and then you could wear them for half an hour. You know, and then you could wear them all day because you had this scar tissue inside your eye. So I, to this day, I could stick my finger in my if I get a eyelid eyelash in there, I stick my finger in and I take it out, you know. I think nothing of touching my eyes and…because I wore contact lenses. So this sounds like a real challenge for people to get used to. But I guess if you’re highly motivated enough, you’ll stick it in your eye.

DE: Yeah, well, I have never worn contact lenses, but I have no problem sticking my finger in my eye. So I think I’ll be fine.

BL: You’re ready.

DE: Plus, I’m motivated to check out the technology as well. So–

BL: I believe Apple’s coming with a pair of eyeglasses, which I’d be more likely to try them

DE: Right, well, I mean, there’s Google Glass but that looked weird and that hey, you know you have the glasshole thing going on. Spectacles with Snapchat came along and they’re much more friendly look like normal.

BL: But, Dave, looking weird is fun. I like looking weird.

DE: Yeah, you haven’t. You haven’t test-run Google Glass.

BL: No, you had no fun with that, I remember. Didn’t you sat on them or something, right?

DE: Well, they broke very quickly after I bought them. But the main thing was I felt very self-conscious about wearing them in public, because they just look weird. I mean.

BL: Well, see in New York, everybody looks weird so it doesn’t matter.

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