Smart Contact Lens Maker Mojo Vision Raises $22.4 Million, Pivots to Micro-LED Display Technology
Previously known for its futuristic sci-fi-style smart contact lenses, Mojo Vision has now raised $22.4 million in a funding round and is pivoting towards micro-LEDs.
In January this year, the company announced it was stopping work on its AR contact lenses and laid off 75% of its staff.
With the fresh infusion of cash, the company has also brought on board a new CEO, Nikhil Balram. It is now planning to commercialize the tiny pixel-dense micro-LED display technology that it developed earlier.
The $22.4 million funding round was led by the company’s current investors NEA and Khosla Ventures. Also participating in this funding round were Dolby Family Ventures, Fusion Fund, Drew Perkins, Liberty Global Ventures, and Open Field Capital.
Mojo Vision’s AR Contact Lens
For years, Mojo Vision focused its efforts on developing an AR device that’s built into a tiny contact lens. The company even developed a prototype of that device. Its display leveraged micro-Led technology. However, following the pandemic-era woes, Mojo Vision ran out of funds that would have enabled it to build the product and its complete software and hardware stack and bring it to the market.
This forced the company to scale down its ambitions and pivot to a product category that is realizable. In January this year, it cuts its staff from 120 to 35. The company has now raised $22 million in new funding that it will use to commercialize the micro-LED technology it developed as semiconductor chips that will target a broader market.
In an interview with VentureBeat, Mojo Vision’s new boss said did not entirely kill off its smart contact lens project. It merely decelerated it. The company is still holding all the patents and may relaunch the project someday. Mojo Vision says the micro-LED technology it is planning to commercialize is relatively more straightforward.
This micro-LED technology was developed for AR contact lenses. Mojo Vision says it can be applied in various areas including enterprise, consumer, and government uses.
A focus on building semiconductor chips is narrower but also more practical for the company. It is less complex than developing the whole AR contact lens system. The micro-LEDs could still be used by a third party to build contact lenses but they are also applicable in other areas.
Mojo Vision is hoping that its leading-edge semiconductor technology used in its micro-LEDs will disrupt the display technology. According to the display market research company DSCC, the global display market will be worth more than $160 billion in 2026.
Mojo Vision says opportunities for its micro-LED technology exist in augmented reality and virtual reality, light field displays, automotive sectors, large format displays, and other sectors where high-performance micro-LED displays are required to deliver true value and power broader adoption.
In 2019, the company built the smallest, densest dynamic displays with its Mojo Lens. The lens was a key component in its smart contact lenses.
Mojo Vision’s original monochrome display technology had a world-record pixel pitch of more than 14,000ppi. Now the smart contact lens has been shelved aside as Mojo Vision focuses its efforts on the commercialization of its display technology. New Mojo CEO Balram describes the company’s display technology as a “once-in-a-generation disruption” of the display market.