On Thursday, Mojo Vision, a startup comprised of former engineers from Apple, Amazon, Google, and other Silicon Valley mainstays, emerged from stealth backed by $50 million in funding for a hands-free augmented reality platform that runs without smartphones, tablets, or other devices.
Participating in the funding round as venture and strategic investors are Shanda Group, Khosla Ventures, NEA, Fusion Fund, Liberty Global Ventures, 8VC, Dolby Family Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Open Field Capital, and others.
The funding will enable Mojo Vision to build a software platform and underlying hardware for what the company calls an "invisible computing" paradigm.
"People want technology to deliver information faster and in more convenient ways, but in many cases the scale has tipped in the other direction. The instant access to information we enjoy today can also distract us from important parts of our lives. The very technology that was designed to improve communication is now often a barrier to fundamental personal connections," said Drew Perkins, CEO at Mojo Vision, in a statement.
"Invisible Computing is about having faster and more natural access to information, but without phones, tablets or other devices getting in the way; in the world of Invisible Computing, we will be able to focus on the people around us without the interruptions from today's screens."
Perhaps best known as the inventor of Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP), Perkins is flanked in leadership by chief technology officer Mike Wiemer and chief science officer Michael Deering. Wiemer co-founded Solar Junction, a company specializing in solar cells, satellite power, and laser diodes, while Deering is a computer vision expert with more than 130 patents to his name.
Although the company is being coy about the specifics of its product, the team expects its technology to focus on the real world without having to stare at a screen, with the ability to access information freely without fiddling with a device.
The company cites survey results (from a relatively small sample size of 1,000 respondents) that hint at their technology. When asked what information they would want to be able to access without a device, 54% of respondents wanted help remembering people's names in social situations, and 40% wanted access to information during business meetings.
In general, the augmented reality industry's trajectory is trending away from smartphones and tablets towards smartglasses and headsets. But Mojo Vision's vague statements imply that they are not only replacing mobile devices but also wearables, which could be considered "other devices."
Identifying people's names? Hands-free access to information? No devices? Are we talking about AR contact lenses, like the ones shown in the Netflix sci-film series Altered Carbon, or an implant as seen in Anon?
Perhaps. But until Mojo Vision unseals its plans, it's anyone's guess. Nevertheless, a number of very smart people are willing to bet $50 million on it, whatever it turns out to be.