On March 7 (2021), MacRumors came out with an article titled “Kuo: Apple to Launch Mixed Reality Headset in Mid 2022 and Augmented Reality Glasses by 2025”. While at first glance, it doesn’t seem to hint at much. After all, we already knew that Apple has been internally developing a mixed reality headset and AR glasses. However, dig just a bit deeper and a mysterious new device emerges.
Apple Augmented Reality Contact Lens
According to Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple may release AR contact lens by 2030 – 2040. The augmented reality contact lens will “bring electronics from the era of “visible computing” to “invisible computing”. Following up on the previous story, MacRumors posted another story on the same day expanding on the AR contact lens. Kuo went on to say that the lenses are “unlikely to have independent computing power and storage”. Much like the case with the Apple Glass, Kuo’s statement suggests that an iPhone will be required for the device. However, Kuo also said that currently there is “no visibility” of the product.
Let’s take a step back and unpack. Kuo’s statement of “no visibility” of the product indicates that the contact lens is more of an out-there prediction based on Apple’s goals with VR/AR. However, it makes sense that in the future, we will move towards an era of “invisible computing”. Whether or not that takes the form of AR contact lens is yet to be seen.
Let’s take Mojo Lens/Vision as an example of a successful development of AR contact lens. They are one of the two medical startups trying to bring AR closer to your eyes through contact lens. However, they are the only AR contact lens company that is working closely with the FDA via Breakthrough Device Program. Their plan is to target enterprise first in the 2020s before moving onto the commercial sector, also in the 2020s. How this will pan out is anyone’s guess. If it proves to be successful, it will be the first major AR contact lens on the market.
With Mojo Lens/Vision being one of the very first successful startups in tackling AR contact lens, it will certainly pave the way for future companies to eventually enter the growing market of AR contact lens.
Apple Glass & AR Contact Lens
Perhaps, the most interesting statement about the AR contact lens would be that the lens are “unlikely to have independent computing power and storage”. Remember the hype around Apple Glass leaks & rumors? Apple has reportedly positioned the Apple Glass as the next iPhone in 10 years. However, with Kuo’s prediction, we could still be seeing iPhones in 10 years or Apple Glass has been potentially delayed considerably. However, the contact lens would at odds against the Apple Glass if the glasses were to become the next iPhone.
There is much to be done about AR contact lens before they can be considered safe to wear for the general population. While the idea of being completely immersed in AR through contact lens sounds like science-fiction and cyberpunk had a baby, we are still quite a way off from wearing screens on our eyes. So don’t bet on being like V from Cyberpunk 2077 anytime soon.