Debuted Prototype “Smart” Contact Lens Utilizes Augmented Reality

"mojo lens" lays unobtrusive interface over peripheral field of vision

By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer

Mojo Vision has revealed its latest product, a “smart” contact lens, at CES, Wired reported. It will be operated by peripheral vision, laying interfaces over the user’s normal field of view. The device could pioneer a new blending of reality and cyberspace.

Mojo Vision's smart contact lens
Mojo Vision’s prototype device for seeing augmented reality—a smart contact lens—allows the wearer to see a built-in screen display in their peripheral vision. Photo by Mojo Vision

According to the Wired article, Mojo Vision was created by “industry veterans from the likes of Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.” The goal with their new device, dubbed the Mojo Lens, is to reduce our dependence on screens. The article offers an example: “Instead of pulling out your phone to check why it buzzed in the middle of a conversation, look to the corner of your eye to activate an interface that will tell you in a split second.”

Incorporating virtual reality into the real world is a concept known as augmented reality—a phrase which largely defines itself. It also exemplifies the final step in the process of understanding reality as we know it.

Perceiving Reality: A Primer

To understand how we define reality in the age of smart tech, it can be helpful to first look at some of the more popular online virtual communities that have sprung up since the late 2000s. Often, they thrive in what are known as “massively multiplayer online role-playing games,” or MMORPGs.

In an MMORPG, players build personalized characters to represent themselves in a game and generally go on fantasy-based adventures to fight creatures, get better armor and gear for their characters, form guilds with other players, and so on. Most of these titles are video games with no clear ending but seasonal events and regularly added areas to explore. They form dynamic, immersive, expansive worlds for online players around the world to get together and have fun.

“When we think of the phrase ‘virtual reality,’ what often comes to mind is some sort of goggles or helmet that immerses the wearer in three-dimensional computer-generated graphics that respond to the wearer’s movements,” said Dr. Steven Gimbel, the Edwin T. Johnson and Cynthia Shearer Johnson Distinguished Teaching Chair in the Humanities at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.

“But this is an atomistic picture of virtual reality, one in which an individual person is put in a false world. What we see in […] massively multiplayer online role-playing games is virtual reality in a deeper sense.”

Realizing the Digital

According to Dr. Gimbel, views about what makes something “real” occur in a three-step process.

“We begin by thinking of reality as a set of distinct things which could be understood by looking at [them] closely,” he said. “We then move to the reality of relations among things—this is the step we see with these online worlds. Unlike the helmet, where virtual reality was a false place where an individual could be inserted, now we have virtual communities.”

However, spending 24 hours a day online is obviously bad for our health. Instead, Mojo Vision is the latest in a line of companies offering augmented reality products, which incorporate the benefits of technology while hoping to keep our eyes on the real world. This merging of digital and physical spaces is part of the final step in Dr. Gimbel’s process.

“The third step in understanding reality has always been the move from sets of relations to fields, where what is ‘real’ is the whole, and the parts are seen not as distinct individuals, but rather modes of the whole,” he said. “Interestingly, we see this as the next step in the development of the internet.”

Dr. Steven Gimbel contributed to this article. Dr. Gimbel serves as Chair of the Philosophy Department at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. He received his bachelor’s degree in Physics and Philosophy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and his doctoral degree in Philosophy from the Johns Hopkins University.