These AR Contacts Are as Smart as They Are Stupid

The XR contact shown in pieces, including electronic layers.
Mojo Vision

Augmented reality (AR) is full of promise. Imagine getting directions in your vision while walking, or instructions while trying to fix your sink. The problem is most AR solutions calls for bulky headsets and equally large battery packs. A company named Mojo Vision is showing smart contacts that fit right on your eye to provide AR, and they sound great. But they look terrible.

Magic Leap in Your Eyes

Weater data and traffic info at the corners of an image of house.
Look to the corners of your vision and you’ll get tiny clusters of data. Mojo Vision

Both Magic Leap and Hololens have been promising “holographic” like AR for quite a while now, and technically you can buy headsets that deliver on that promise. If you don’t mind spending between $2,000 and $3,000, that is.

But they have a small field of view, require a bulky headset and power, and thus are not a “wear it anywhere” type gadget. Mojo Vision’s XR Contacts promise to be something different. They go on your eye, thus providing a wild field of view while not weighing your head down. Unlike the Magic Leap and Hololens, you won’t get full “holograms” in your vision, though—it’s something closer to clusters of data.

Still, the idea is sound—an AR experience without having to wear weighty and outlandish headgear, one that you’d feel comfortable using in public. But in its current format, the premise leaves a lot to be desired.

You Want That on My Eye?

A finger holding up a very thick XR contact.
Mojo Vision

The first problem with the XR Lens is the sheer size and thickness of the thing. Even if you’re used to wearing contacts, they’re far too thick ever to be comfortable. In their current iteration, they resemble safety glasses shaped for an eyeball.

The fact that they aren’t ready for anyone to wear shows in the company’s demonstrations. No one ever wears the contact—in the case of FastCompany’s coverage, a VR headset simulated the experience. The BBC’s Lara Lewington got a closer approximation by holding the contact in front of her eye.

But the XR Contact includes another unsettling detail Mojo Vision actually touts as a feature. Because the contacts project light in front of your eye, you’ll continue to see the AR data even when you close your eyes. Every time you blink, or when the sun is too bright, you won’t be able to escape the weather and calendar data.

The company presents this as something good; after all, you always have access to your data. But the idea that you can’t escape the AR data even when your close eyes is mildly horrifying. Speaking of horrifying, Venture Beat suggests tiny batteries embedded in the lenses will power the contacts. We couldn’t find any other confirmation of that fact, but the thought of miniature batteries directly on your eyeball sounds like the B-plot to a horror movie.

In theory, as Mojo Vision continues to iterate on the technology, the contact should get thinner and maybe even possible to wear without wanting to tear your eyeballs out. But what the company isn’t ready to share is pricing, battery life, or how to turn the darn things off when you just need to close your eyes for a moment’s peace.

Source: BBC Click

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »

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