After losing sight of its initial pitch, Mojo Vision eyes pivot with $22.4M raise

News of Mojo Vision’s pivot rather poetically dropped during CES. After years of trying out the latest iteration of the company’s smart contact lens in various Las Vegas hotel suites, I found myself typing up this news sitting in the hallway of the Wynn, waiting to talk to an HTC executive about their VR play.

The entire notion of a viable smart contact lens felt like a bit of a pipe dream in those early days — a notion seemingly solidified by those pesky market forces. It was a bold and exciting vision, mind — just one economic and technological forces aren’t quite ready to crack at the moment. The firm announced at the time that it was putting the project on hold and laying off a jaw-dropping 75% of its staff. It also did the thing startups are supposed to do in those sorts of situations: focusing on something more immediately viable to survive treacherous headwinds.

“Although we haven’t had the chance yet to see it ship and to reach its full potential in the marketplace, we have proven that what was once considered science fiction can be developed into a technical reality,” (now former) CEO Drew Perkins wrote at the time. “Even though the pursuit of our vision for Invisible Computing is on hold for now, we strongly believe that there will be a future market for Mojo Lens and expect to accelerate it when the time is right.”

While the news felt like a definitive end, Mojo is making good on its promised pivot. Moving forward, the company is commercializing the micro-LED display tech at the heart of its lenses. This morning it announced a $22.4 million raise that it’s referring to as a “new Series A” (presumably delineated by its major pivot). Still, there are existing backers who believe in the new mission to pony up for this new round, including NEA and Khosla Ventures. New investors include Dolby Family Ventures, Liberty Global Ventures, Fusion Fund, Drew Perkins, Open Field Capital and Edge.

Certainly there’s a much larger addressable market for the component’s tech at the moment — and a more manageable roadmap to boot. Here are some specs/details about the technology from the company:

  • Dynamic displays up to 28,000 pixels per inch
  • Efficient blue micro-LED devices at sub-µm scale
  • High efficiency quantum dot ink for red and green
  • High brightness at 1M+ nits
  • A display system that incorporates an optimized CMOS backplane, wafer-to-wafer bonding, and custom micro-lens optics
  • A high volume manufacturing process that is based on 300mm gallium nitride (GaN) on Silicon, and an end-to-end 300mm flow

While Perkins remains an investor, the former SVP and GM of Mojo’s micro-LED business, Nikhil Balram, is stepping into the CEO role. “This round of funding will enable us to deliver our breakthrough monolithic micro-LED technology to customers and help bring high-performance micro-LEDs to market,” he says in the release.

Prior to joining Mojo Vision, Balram served as the CEO of AR company EyeWay Vision and did R&D for various Google hardware projects, including its various AR/VR plays.

After losing sight of its initial pitch, Mojo Vision eyes pivot with $22.4M raise by Brian Heater originally published on TechCrunch

Mojo Vision takes another step toward AR contact lenses with new prototype

We’ve known Mojo Vision’s journey to market was going to be a long and deliberate one since we saw an early prototype in Las Vegas a number of CESes ago. You can multiply all of the talk of hardware being hard a few times over when attempting to execute something novel and tiny that’s designed to be worn on one of the more vulnerable parts of the human anatomy.

Today the Bay Area-based firm announced a new prototype of its augmented reality contact lens technology. The system is based around what Mojo calls “Invisible Computing,” its heads up display technology that overlays information onto the lens. Essentially it’s an effort to realize the technology you’ve seen in every science-fiction movie from the past 40+ years. The set-up also features an updated version of the startup’s operating system, all designed to reduce user reliance on screens by — in a sense — moving the screen directly in front of their eyes.

The system is building around a 0.5 millimeter microLED display with a remarkably dense 14,000 pixels per inch. The text overlays are highlighted through micro-optics, while data is transferred back and forth via a 5GHz band. All of that is powered by an ARM Core M0 processor. An eye-tracking system is on-board, utilizing acceleromter, gyroscope and magnetometer readings to determine the motion of the wearer’s gaze. That, in turn, forms the foundation of the system’s hands-free control.

The company writes:

Since we first revealed Mojo Lens to the world in January 2020, we’ve been innovating and building, and integrating systems that many people thought couldn’t be built, let alone operational in a contact lens form factor. The most common thing we hear as we share this latest prototype is, “I knew there would be smart contact lenses, but I thought they were 10 or 20 years out, not now.” This is happening and I’m excited about our next milestones and realizing the promise of Invisible Computing.

Of course, things are still in the prototype phase — so “now” isn’t now, exactly. The company continues to work with the FDA to help bring the tech to market as part of its Breakthrough Devices Program. The company also announced previous partnerships with fitness brands like Adidas Running to develop workout applications for the tech.

1-800 Contacts buys the at-home eye exam provider 6over6 Vision

New developments in sensor technologies, computer vision and machine learning technologies are combining to drive medical diagnostics further into the home and the latest company to make a move to push services deeper into the home is the online contact lens retailer, 1-800 Contacts.

The Utah-based company has acquired 6over6 Vision for an undisclosed amount.

Based in Israel, 6over6 Vision, previously raised $15 million to commercialize its in-home eye exams based on a combination of machine learning and sensors. The basic eye exams can be performed with nothing more than a smartphone or computer and camera.

Investors in 6over6 Vision included: Rimonci Capital, Alumot VC, the Indian online eyeglasses company, and TriVentures.

Companies including Lenskart, NovaVision, Kede Optics, SmartBuyGlasses, EyeRim, Liingo, Magic Leap, and Glasses USA use the company’s technology to retrieve optical parameters from existing lenses and measuring pupillary distance. The idea is to let consumers renew their prescriptions without needing a follow-up exam or appointment.

“We have long admired the innovations 6over6 Vision has built and have been using their technologies to serve our customers. This acquisition allows us to continue our 25-year commitment to pursuing a better way in vision care,” said John Graham, CEO of 1-800 Contacts, in a statement. “People deserve simple and affordable eye care solutions and combining with 6over6 allows us to deliver this for our customers on an even larger scale.”

The companies expect to offer additional services, like virtual check-ups for new eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions.

“It has been our life’s mission to create ground-breaking technology that would allow consumers the ability to take control of their own vision care and reach communities around the globe without access,” commented Dr. Ofer Limon, co-founder of 6over6 Vision, in a statement. “1-800 Contacts shares our drive to change what is broken in this industry, and we know that this acquisition will bring our vision to life on a global scale that can make real change.”

Simple Contacts has a new service letting users cheaply switch contact lens prescriptions

Simple Contacts has launched a new service letting users try out new contact lenses for as little as $3.

The company launched a little over three years ago as a way for contact lens wearers to slash their refill costs, has now expanded into a service that offers users a chance to try out different lenses to see what might be a better fit.

Contact lenses are a big business. Just ask Warby Parker, href=""> which recently entered the market with their “Scout” brand for contacts.

“Warby will get a lot of people thinking about dailies, and that’s a great thing for eye health,” says Joel Wish, the founder and chief executive of Simple Contacts. “There are a lot of choices in the market already, and we help patients navigate that by giving them a a personalized lens recommendation and issuing a prescription all online.”

Users who want to try out a new contact lens prescription can take an online test and give certain information about the contacts they currently wear, according to Bharat Ayyar, the general manager at Simple Contacts. Once the test is complete, and the company is assured that a user’s prescription hasn’t changed, Simple Contacts will recommend a daily disposable lens that would be the right fit for a user.

“If you have any questions or issues you can text the doctor,” says Bharat. “You test to see that you see clearly. If you like them you subscribe to them and it’s super easy if you don’t like them you can go back to your old lenses.”

Simple Contacts argues that the price is far more affordable than a visit to the optometrist. In person consultations can cost as much as $200. “Going from $200 plus to get lenses to $3 to get lenses, it’s a huge difference,” says Bharat.

The launch of its new contact lens product isn’t the only change afoot at Simple Contacts. The company has also begun offering a broader array of prescription services under the Simple Health brand as it expands into other aspects of the health care market and looks to compete with companies like Hims, Roman, and NuRX.

“We started delivering birth control last November,” says Wish. “It’s a natural extension of what we’re doing. Our mission is to increase access to care. We’re doing that by making it more cost effective and convenient to get care online. Birth control is another product that’s restricted by the doctor.”

Using influencer marketing on YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo and TikTok, Simple Health has grown its subscriber base quickly over the course of the past year, says Wish.

“We do not need to be the first mover to win,” says Wish of the incredible competition from other prescription drug providers online. “Only a few hundred thousand patients getting birth control are getting it online out of 10 million.”

The market is massive and already Simple Health is generating revenue in the seven figures per-month, according to the company’s chief executive.

It’s all part of the plan to expand upon the technology stack for remote consultations that Simple Contacts built as it was growing the contact lens business.

“Adding other verticals is something we can add to the existing system,” says Wish. “We bought first. The idea was that we could give you access to medications for chronic conditions. Contact lenses are unique in t hat they don’t require a pharmacy and are less complicated and it allowed us to build the infrastructure for virtual pharmacies.”