FitTech Insider

How can AR Smart Contact Lenses help in fitness and beyond, Steve Sinclair?

Mojo Vision is building Mojo Lens – the world’s first AR smart contact lenses. What challenges must they overcome to launch it to market? Steve Sinclair, SVP of Product and Marketing, shares: "We're building the future of computing, called Invisible Computing."

Mojo Vision was co-founded by Silicon Valley veterans Drew Perkins, Michael Wiemer, and Michael Deering. The venture has attracted funding from leading venture firms including Google’s Gradient Ventures, Stanford’s StartX fund, HP Tech Ventures, Shanda Group, Khosla Ventures, and New Enterprise Associates (NEA).

Their first product is Mojo Lens: a smart, AR contact lens with a built-in display that gives timely information without interrupting the user's focus. The pioneering product aims to provide useful data and boost natural vision, using tech that can barely be seen. By understanding the user's real-world context, Mojo Lens provides relevant, eye-up notifications and answers when needed–including during fitness workouts and athletic training. 

Steve Sinclair about the company 

You don’t describe Mojo Vision as a fit-tech company — how do define yourself and where does fitness come into play?
With a team of optometrists, technologists, and medical experts, we are building Mojo Lens — the world’s first AR (Augmented Reality) smart contact lens. This is a huge opportunity to create all sorts of different experiences, which is why we are building a platform called Invisible Computing — it’s going to give you the information visually at the right time. It’s getting the info eyes-up, hands-free when you need it – and having the tech disappear when you don’t.

One of the first applications is in the area of fitness and giving people the info they need while they are working out, prepping for a competition, or meeting their fitness goals — they can have that real-time biometric, coaching, and safety information while engaged in that activity.

Mojo Lens’ current development for the sports and fitness world is finding ways to seamlessly and elegantly provide performance data during your workout. (Source: Mojo Vision)

Based on which trends are you developing Mojo Lens?
I see it as more than just a trend, but smart wearables and similar devices play an important role in people’s relationship with fitness. When exercising or training, people are continuously finding more value in the data their devices can provide them. Whether it’s gauging how long their run was, how many steps they took over the course of the day or how well they competed against their friends on an app, people find a lot of value in their performance data.

What seems to be missing, however, is easy access to data that can improve your performance in the moment. Nobody really wants to interrupt their flow to look at a screen and in the case of sports like skiing or mountain biking it can actually be dangerous to take your eyes off of your surroundings and check your device.

"A significant part of Mojo Lens’ current development for the sports and fitness world is finding ways to seamlessly and elegantly provide performance data during your workout, training session, or competition in a hands-free, eyes-up way."

What kind of metrics will Mojo Lens provide to users?
At its core, Mojo Lens is a display — so the info can be anything you want to see. One of our goals is to partner with other fit tech companies and access data from fitness applications, fitness bands, and other equipment, so you don’t have to pull out your phone or look at your wrist or look at a screen and interrupt your flow. Mojo Lens will be able to pull out data and metrics from devices and apps you’re already using. We have some exciting partnerships in the pipeline.

There are sports that require information that’s only valuable while you’re in the midst of that sport. For example, basic fitness and preparatory workouts like CrossFit and HIIT, as well as individual sports like cycling, running, golf, yoga, snowboarding, and skiing are perfect fits. It’s an individual decision — you’d buy Mojo Lens because you want to improve your performance.

Mojo Lens  is  the world’s first AR (Augmented Reality) smart contact lens, currently in testing and development stages. (Source: Mojo Vision)

What stage of development are you with Mojo Lens and when will it hit the market?
“Smart contact lenses” are considered medical devices per the FDA so we have to go through the certification process with such regulatory bodies before Mojo Lens can come to market. We are several years away and are hard at work on prototypes and testing. We continue to run clinical trials (internally for now but we'll expand) over the next few years before the final approval, in service of making sure we are building the safest and most effective product we can.

Mojo Lens has many different innovations built-in:
  • The world’s smallest dynamic display
  • Motion sensors for ultra-precision eye-tracking
  • A small ultra-efficient outward-facing image sensor used for computer vision
  • Onboard batteries for powering the lens and a wireless radio for communication to/from the lens

You wear a lens in each eye and it communicates with another Mojo accessory you wear on your body that does most of the compute work. The relay can communicate with the cloud or your smartphone. That’s what makes up the Mojo Vision architecture.

Tell us more about your business model.
It all starts with making great contact lenses. Even if the electronics are all off, Mojo Lens is still going to correct your vision and you’ll update your lenses with a new prescription every year. That’s the core. We’ll also sell accessories and contact lens supplies. Then it grows into an App Store-like economy where third-party developers will create and sell new experiences for Mojo Lens.

About Steve Sinclair:
Before joining Mojo Vision as SVP of Product and Marketing, Steve Sinclair had a background in product management and consumer electronic devices for 20+ years. He started out at Handspring and Palm working on the earliest smartphones. He was product manager of the iPhone at Apple for the first six years of production. He also worked on Android smartphones and smartwatches at Google’s Motorola division.

Steve built his career bringing new devices, platforms, and capabilities to the market. After playing a pivotal part in the smartphone revolution, he wanted to be part of the next one with AR contact lenses.

What sets Mojo Vision apart from the competition?
We are the only ones we know of that are building smart contact lenses for AR. There are other smart contact lenses that are designed for medical purposes, but we’re the first and furthest along at being able to display info on your eye.

The other thing that makes us unique is that this form factor is different from smart glasses — it’s AR wherever you’re looking, whether you are wearing sunglasses or not – it even works with your eyes closed! And it’s ergonomically a better fit for people engaging in sports and fitness activities.

We are a different kind of company — a consumer electronics company building a medical device – so we’re in a special category of our own. It takes all that discipline of creating a medical device, combined with the innovation of building a computing platform that can cut across vertical markets: whether it’s for first responders, service and repair technicians, manufacturing workers, hospitality workers, or consumer pursuits like athletics, music, and entertainment. It’s the info you have with you whenever you need it, which becomes a broad and fertile area for many different types of applications.

Steve Sinclair about market trends

What is the most underestimated trend in your current market at the moment? Why?
Though it’s receiving more attention lately, device distraction is still an underestimated trend in the broader consumer marketplace.

"People’s relationship with their devices, their screen-time in particular, is one of the core issues Mojo Vision is working to improve."

Mojo Lens overlays images, symbols, and text on users’ natural field of vision without obstructing their view, restricting mobility, or hindering social interactions. It can be controlled using your eye movement and gaze — to react to where you’re looking and what you’re looking at. To make all this work, we’re developing an entirely new platform (Invisible Computing) that combines critical hardware and a unique software-based user experience — all in a medical-grade device that’s durable enough to use during sports and activities.

Mojo Vision is developing an entirely new platform (Invisible Computing) that combines critical hardware and a unique software-based user experience — all in a medical-grade device. (Source: Mojo Vision)

What do you know about the specific target groups you are currently developing?
While there are many companies that are developing AR/smart glasses and headsets, we see a huge opportunity in building a solution for the millions of people that already wear contact lenses, approximately 45 million in the US alone.

One of our very first use cases is to help people with low vision conditions (i.e. glaucoma) with AR overlays that give you the ability to see edges and contrast to see objects you wouldn’t otherwise see. We will then expand to people that have a big desire to have eyes-up information in athletic pursuits and other consumer use cases.

Why do you think lenses are a better way to display information than other wearable tech options whose market share is growing?
Contact lens wearers have chosen contacts because they want to be unencumbered: they want to look like themselves, participate in activities like sports without anything on their head or face getting in the way. Plus, they have the option to wear their own sunglasses or headgear like ski goggles or protective helmets. We believe these consumer preferences won’t change once eyewear becomes “smart.”

Many athletes purposely choose lenses over glasses. In addition to being small and discreet enough to wear with other sports equipment and eyewear, Mojo Lens will provide a better field of view than smart glasses because the display built into our lens will project information wherever your eyes are looking. It’s a better form factor for working out and other athletic pursuits as it doesn’t move around on your face, it is lightweight and the ergonomics work out really well.

What would you define as your competition — VR glasses or something else?
From a “job to be done” view, there are a lot of tools that give us info throughout the day at our disposal — from smartphones, smartwatches, and smart devices like Alexa that could all be considered competition. We want to deliver information to your eye at the right time and in the right context.

But from our standpoint, the thing you put on in the morning and wear throughout the day and always have with you is always going to win. Mobility and accessibility really matter.

"Our goal is to provide that type of solution that is always available to you, that’s why we coined it 'Invisible Computing' — it’s ready to help you at the moment and gets out of the way the rest of the time so you can be engaged with the world and the people around you." 

Steve Sinclair @ FitTech Summit:Digital Edition

On May 25-28 2021, the FitTech Summit is going live with a fully digital edition, with three days full of insights devoted to the future of fitness and health in the post-pandemic world. We are pleased that Steve Sinclair will be part of this event.

Steve Sinclair about the future

What headline would you like to read about the company in 2026?? 
Around the lines of: “Mojo Vision is helping people be more engaged with the world — their heads are up, they are active, and interacting with each other while getting the information they need when they want it.”

What is the most important decision for Mojo Vision in the next 12 months?
Focus. We are building this platform that can do anything that we want it to do, so we need to pick the areas where we can make the biggest difference — that’s why we are focused on the low vision and athletics markets to start. That enables us to leverage the small team we have in the best way possible to make our platform a reality.

Are you trying to replace the iPhone or Apple Watch in terms of your health apps?
We believe the eye is a much better place than the wrist to measure health and wellness biometrics, so we think there is an opportunity to challenge a smartwatch especially with an unrestricted display that can be seen anytime. Smartphones? Perhaps someday…over time, the need to look at a screen on your smartphone will go away. But not just yet.

What does the future of health and fitness look like to you in 5 to 10 years?
Ultimately, health and fitness technology should just fade into the background so that you as the athlete can be in charge and decide what you want to see, when you want to see it, and do so in a way that doesn’t interrupt your flow.

We want to be holistic and give people useful information during— if they want to work out at home and then take the same capability and coaching, motivation, and information with them while out running in the world, they can have that as well.

Steve Sinclair will be speaking at the talk “A brief history of the future: Fitness tech for the day after tomorrow” on May 27. Get your ticket here.