A startup called Mojo Vision announced Wednesday it raised another $51 million in venture capital – bringing its total VC war chest to a whopping $159 million – to finance its development of a wireless contact lens that can display augmented reality (AR) content to the wearer.
Yup, you read that right: You stick this thing onto your eyeball in order to see Internet-fed information about our surroundings. That type of AR experience is already available today in plenty of smartphone apps like Google Lens or Civilizations AR and is also making its way into headsets and wearables like Microsoft's Hololens and Nreal's glasses. Rumor has it Apple is developing similar facewear.
But Mojo wants to take this whole idea a step further (or closer, as the case may be) by sticking AR info directly into your eyeball.
The company's prototype caused a stir at this year's CES show, and Mojo is pushing an early application of its Mojo Lens for people with vision impairments.
But the company's clear long-term vision is to bring "invisible computing" into the mainstream by enabling information to be "instantaneous, unobtrusive, and available hands-free, allowing people to interact with each other more freely and genuinely."
If such a service does indeed take off, 5G operators would undoubtedly benefit. While Mojo's contact lens does not connect directly to cellular networks – early prototypes sport a tiny 5GHz radio that can connect to a nearby smartphone or other accessory via a proprietary low-power, low-latency protocol – 5G operators would nonetheless cheer a new class of popular devices on their networks. VR and AR are often touted as top 5G use cases, after all.
These are all surely issues that Mojo co-founder and CEO Drew Perkins is aware of. After all, he also co-founded optical networking company Infinera, which went public in 2007, as well as a cable network architecture startup, Gainspeed, that Nokia purchased in 2016.
But the timing of Mojo's announcement is inauspicious considering another high-flying, well-funded AR startup, Magic Leap, just this month laid off about half its workforce amid plans to wind down its consumer business.