The development of smart contact lenses by one company has been cancelled. Mojo Vision, creators of the Mojo Lens, announced on Friday that they would “pivot their business and focus their resources” on developing their MicroLED display technology. Chief Executive Officer Drew Perkins announced in a news post that the company would be laying off 75 percent of its workforce as part of the pivot. According to PitchBook and LinkedIn, the company had about 150 workers.
According to the post, Mojo is no longer developing its smart contact lens because it cannot continue to raise the necessary funds. As Perkins put it, “Mojo Vision has been unable to find additional private funding due to the slumping global economy, extremely tight capital markets, and the yet-to-be-proven market potential for advanced AR products.”
Although the company previewed the Mojo lens at CES 2020, it was still a long way from being commercially available. The demo unit’s 14,000 pixel-per-inch screen appeared to do its job, but it required a separate battery and processor, which is less than ideal if you intend to wear it on your eye. A “feature-complete prototype” with on-board power and communications was worn by Perkins in a video posted by Mojo in June 2022. The next step, the company said in a March blog post, would be “extensive user testing and analysis, software application prototyping, and overall system and product optimization,” implying that it would be quite some time before consumers could actually buy its lenses.
However, even if Mojo had been able to launch sales of its smart contacts, the company still might not have been guaranteed success. It’s unclear if the public has come around to the idea of face-mounted computers since it largely rejected Google Glass. However, the ability to see informational overlays, directions, and even zoom in on objects has a futuristic feel. The market for Mojo’s services may have been crowded, even if we’re cool with it now. Meta is spending billions on augmented reality and buying up smart glasses startups. Although smart glasses may not appear as futuristic as smart contacts, they may offer similar functionality in a more convenient package.
If Mojo decides to enter the market for MicroLED displays, it won’t be doing so alone. Larger than Mojo’s displays, TVs using this technology have already been announced by companies like LG and Samsung. For instance, Samsung marketed its 76-inch MicroLED CX as the “world’s smallest and most affordable MicroLED screen” at this year’s CES. (Its 50-inch MicroLED TV was the smallest on display, but that’s still much larger than, say, something that would fit on your eye.) Price information was not disclosed, but the company’s other MicroLED TVs have screens larger than 99 inches and sell for more than $120,000.
The development of eye-based wearables has been halted at multiple companies, Mojo included. Verily, a subsidiary of Alphabet (Google’s parent company), halted development of glucose-monitoring contact lenses in 2018.
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