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.