Mojo Vision’s miniature screen actually got me excited about augmented reality

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When you think of state-of-the-art screens, you probably imagine a giant modular screen or even a rollable TV.

Mojo Vision just showed me the exact opposite: a tiny monochrome screen half a millimeter in diameter that I can only see under a microscope.

The Silicon Valley startup is working on what it calls “invisible computing” technology. Rather than being constantly distracted by a phone in front of you all the time, or the friction of an AR or VR headset, Mojo Vision says this technology can help you be more present and engaged with the real world. So if you get a notification or need quick access to information, you’ll be able to see it at a glance.

This 14,000 ppi miniature display is not yet an actual product. Mojo Vision is silent on how the screen will ultimately be used, but Mojo Vision’s senior vice president of product and marketing Steve Sinclair tells me “we’re building something pretty bold.” With a density of 200 million pixels per square inch, he says it’s perfect for the app the company is trying to build.

Instead of augmented reality devices like the Magic Leap One or Microsoft Hololens, which have a screen inside a bulky headset, this technology could be placed very close to the eye. Its hexagonal shape also gives me a pretty good idea of ​​where it might ultimately end up. A previous report from CNET indicated that this mystery product is probably contact lenses.

To the naked eye, however, this display looks like nothing more than a miniature green dot. It’s not even the size of a pinhead. But under a microscope, it becomes clear that I’m looking at something big. Looking through the scope, I adjust the focus and see a fast looping clip of Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley.

I just got Rickrolled by the world’s smallest display.

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The text I saw on the screen under the microscope.

Mojo Vision

There’s also a loop of images and short video clips: a quick GIF of Princess Leia, an image of Albert Einstein, and finally some stylized text. To my surprise, I can read every word clearly.

This MicroLED display has approximately 300 times the pixel density of your standard phone display. It’s also much denser than the screens found on other VR headsets like the HTC Vive Pro. MicroLED is also used by Samsung in its high end TV called The Wall and can deliver higher brightness levels than other display technologies such as OLED.

Many big tech companies are pushing hard on AR and VR technology, with Google, Samsung and Facebook already in the running. Even Apple is rumored to be working on a headset that could debut in 2020. Augmented reality places objects like text, graphics, or other elements in your field of vision, superimposed on an image of the real world. You can use it for walking directions in Google Maps or to play games in Snapchat where you score points by catching virtual eggs in your mouth.

Mojo Vision wouldn’t give me any indication of when we’re likely to see their final product hit the market or what the potential cost will be. There’s certainly prestige within the company, with former Google, Apple and HP veterans in its ranks, which makes this small screen all the more intriguing as to where it’s headed next.

“We’re actually working on even smaller pixels than that,” Sinclair says. “Our goal is to eventually try to match the resolution of the human eye.”

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