AR contact lenses are the holy grail of sci-fi tech. Mojo is making them real

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Every technology has its trade-offs. The key to success is making sure that the benefits are so great that the trade-offs seem like minor nitpicks by comparison.

Steve Sinclair, the senior vice president of product and marketing at a Silicon Valley startup called Mojo Vision, is excited about the technology his company is developing. And he’s betting you’ll be excited, too — so excited that you’ll forget all about the fact that using it requires you to press two tiny screens up against your eyeballs.

If what Mojo has planned works, sticking a piece of tech directly onto your eyes every day will be as minor a drawback as your smartphone making your pocket a few ounces heavier.

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The making of Mojo, AR contact lenses that give your eyes superpowers

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Using a display the size of a grain of sand to project images onto the retina, this startup could help everyone from firefighters to people with poor vision.

When I looked into the user interface of Mojo Vision’s augmented reality contact lenses, I didn’t see anything at first except the real world in front of me. Only when I peeked over toward the periphery did a small yellow weather icon appear. When I examined it more closely, I could see the local temperature, the current weather, and some forecast information. I looked over to the 9 o’clock position and saw a traffic icon that gave way to a frontal graphic showing potential driving routes on a simple map. At 12 o’clock, I found my calendar and to-do information. At the bottom of my view was a simple music controller.

Rather than wearing Mojo’s contact lenses—which aren’t yet ready to demo—I was looking at a mock-up of a future, consumer version of their interface through a VR headset. But the point was made. Instead of offering the pretty holograms of the Magic Leap and HoloLens headsets, Mojo aims to place useful data and imagery over your world—and boost your natural vision—using tech that can barely be seen. The startup named the lenses “Mojo” because it wants to build something that’s like getting superpowers for your eyes.

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CES 2020 : Panasonic unveils world’s first ultra HD VR eyeglasses

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The lightweight VR glasses offer HDR visuals without the dreaded “screen-door” effect.

At CES 2020, companies were hard at work promoting a fresh wave of groundbreaking technology that will soon be available for you to demo.

This includes legendary Japanese electronics corporation Panasonic, which will be offering attendees a first-look at its compact VR eyeglasses, which are capable of displaying ultra high definition visuals that remove the dreaded “screen-door” effect from images, offering truly natural in-headset visuals.

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Cows on Russian farm get fitted with VR goggles to increase milk production

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The VR headsets will hopefully relax the cows, offering them sun-filled summer views of green pastures.

If you walked onto the RusMoloko dairy farm near Moscow, in Russia, you may think you’ve arrived onto a bizarre futuristic film set, where cows run around fitted with VR headsets.

The VR goggles aren’t props for a film, however. They have been specifically made for these dairy cows, so as to improve their conditions and enable them to relax into producing more milk.

Many different industries around the world are turning more and more toward computerization to improve working conditions, so why not the farming industry too?

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New virtual reality interface enables “touch” across long distances

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Lightweight, flexible patch conveys a tactile sensation directly to the skin

Adding a sense of touch can make virtual reality experiences feel more real.

A woman sits at a computer, video chatting with her young son while she gently pats an interface on a separate screen. In response, a wireless patch on the child’s back vibrates in a pattern that matches his mother’s fingers, allowing him to “feel” her physical touch.

The new patch is a type of haptic device, a technology that remotely conveys tactile signals. A common example is video game controllers that vibrate when the player’s avatar takes a hit. Some researchers think more advanced, wearable versions of such interfaces will become a vital part of making virtual and augmented reality experiences feel like they are actually happening. “If you take a look at what exists today in VR and AR, it consists primarily of auditory and visual channels as the main basis for the sensory experience,” says John A. Rogers, a physical chemist and material scientist at Northwestern University, whose team helped develop the new haptic patch. “But we think that the skin itself—the sense of touch—could qualitatively add to your experience that you could achieve with VR, beyond anything that’s possible with audio and video.”

Scientists, technology companies and do-it-yourself-ers have experimented with wearable haptic devices, often vests or gloves equipped with vibrating motors. But many of these require heavy battery packs connected by a mess of wires. Because of their weight, most have to be attached loosely to the body instead of adhering securely to the skin. So, Rogers and his colleagues developed a vibrating disk, only a couple millimeters thick, that can run with very little energy. These actuators (a term for devices that give a system physical motion) need so little energy that they can be powered by near-field communication—a wireless method of transferring small amounts of power, typically used for applications like unlocking a door with an ID card.

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Smart contacts: The future of the wearable you won’t even see

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One day, contact lenses could do much more than just correct our vision

The notion of wearing lenses over our eyes to correct our vision dates back hundreds of years, with some even crediting Leonardo da Vinci as one of the first proponents of the idea (though that remains somewhat controversial). Material science and our understanding of the human eye have come a long way since, while their purpose has remained largely the same. In the age of wearable computers, however, scientists in the laboratories of DARPA, Google, and universities around the world see contact lenses not just as tools to improve our vision, but as opportunities to augment the human experience. But how? And why?

As a soft, transparent disc of plastic and silicone that you wear on your eyeball, a contact lens may seem like a very bad place to put electronics. But if you look beneath the surface, the idea of a smart contact lens has real merit, and that begins with its potential to improve our well-being.

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Smart glasses, smart designer babies and the future of work

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John B. Goodenough, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry last month, struggled to learn to read. “Back then,” he says, “You were just a backwards student.”

His experience is still all too common, yet he and many like him demonstrate clearly that dyslexia is not a definitive barrier to career achievement. We must ask ourselves if our entry level recruitment and education systems should always depend on literacy.

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Google used photogrammetry to create a detailed VR tour of Versailles

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It’s the largest photogrammetry capture ever done on the site.

Versailles palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, but fighting those crowds in person can be frustrating. Now, Google and the Château de Versailles have teamed up to take VR users on a private tour of Louis XIV’s royal residence. It’s the largest photogrammetry project ever done at the castle, with 21 rooms and 387,500 square feet of internal surfaces captured. HTC Vive and Oculus Rift users can handle and inspect over 100 sculptures, paintings and other works of art and see them with incredible close-up detail.

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Artificial skin could help rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality

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Artificial skin could help rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality

EPFL scientists have developed a soft artificial skin that provides haptic feedback and—thanks to a sophisticated self-sensing mechanism—has the potential to instantaneously adapt to a wearer’s movements. Applications for the new technology range from medical rehabilitation to virtual reality. Artificial skin could help rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality.

Just like our senses of hearing and vision, our sense of touch plays an important role in how we perceive and interact with the world around us. And technology capable of replicating our sense of touch—also known as haptic feedback—can greatly enhance human-computer and human-robot interfaces for applications such as medical rehabilitation and virtual reality.

Scientists at EPFL’s Reconfigurable Robotics Lab (RRL), headed by Jamie Paik, and Laboratory for Soft Bioelectronic Interfaces (LSBI), headed by Stéphanie Lacour at the School of Engineering, have teamed up to develop a soft, flexible artificial skin made of silicone and electrodes. Both labs are part of the NCCR Robotics program.

The skin’s system of soft sensors and actuators enable the artificial skin to conform to the exact shape of a wearer’s wrist, for example, and provide haptic feedback in the form of pressure and vibration. Strain sensors continuously measure the skin’s deformation so that the haptic feedback can be adjusted in real time to produce a sense of touch that’s as realistic as possible. The scientists’ work has just been published in Soft Robotics.

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Digital twins could form the “end game” for optimum smart city design

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Digital twinning technology can transform how cities are designed, monitored and managed

Research finds that urban digital twinning and city modelling technology is having a transformative effect on how cities are designed, monitored, and managed.

Urban modelling and digital twins, in particular, will form the “end game” of the smart cities journey to optimised design and the ultra-efficient operation of entire cities, according to ABI Research.

Its research findings reveal that the installed base of urban digital twin and city modelling deployments will rise from a handful to more than 500 by 2025.

The global tech market advisory firm said the technology is helping to transform how cities are designed, monitored, and managed and optimising the holistic performance of cities across verticals in terms of energy management, mobility, resilience, sustainability, and economic growth.

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Double’s new telepresence robot now drives you around like you’re a Sim

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Click to drive

When my colleague James Vincent tried out Double Robotics’ first telepresence robot in 2015, slowly wheeling around our New York office from his London home base, he described the experience as like playing Doom, but in an office. The company’s latest version of the robot, the Double 3, adds mixed reality video to let users click on the spots they want to drive to instead of having to use a control pad, making the experience closer to controlling a Sim.

The Double 3 now has an array of 3D sensors to allow for self-driving, letting the robot move around while avoiding obstacles. The new “Click-to-drive” interface shows dots on the floor for areas the robot is able to move to, and there are two 13-megapixel cameras that let users pan and zoom around the screen. The cameras can physically tilt up and down, which comes in handy for zooming in to read papers on a desk, for example. The whole interface can be controlled from a web browser or mobile app.

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HUD swim goggles put performance data in your face

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Form Swim Goggles sell for US$199

Competitive swimmers certainly like to track their performance, often using devices such as swim watches – the problem is, the athletes have to stop to look at those things. A Vancouver-based startup is out to address that problem, with its head-up display (HUD) Form Swim Goggles.

Looking for the most part like regular goggles, the Forms are equipped with an IMU (inertial measurement unit), a microprocessor, and a Google Glass-like transparent projection screen that can be worn alongside the left or right lens.

With some help from the IMU’s accelerometer and gyroscope, the processor is able to track metrics such as split time, interval time, rest time, total time, stroke rate, stroke count, distance per stroke, pace per 100, pace per 50, distance, length count, and calories burned. Selected bits of that data are continuously displayed via the screen, superimposed over the wearer’s view of the pool.

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