Throughout their history, personal computing devices have been steadily getting smaller and ‘closer to the body’: from desktops to laptops, to phones. A recent crop of new form factors follows that trend: smartwatches, VR headsets, smart glasses, wireless earbuds with voice assistants – all of them are more portable and/or more personal in the most corporeal way. However, they still fail to offer the universal capabilities of a full personal computer.
The limitations of the existing form factors and their UX are now becoming obvious. They all share one core flaw, each insisting on a very specific use mode and requiring their users to stick to that mode. Despite all the progress in portability and interface design, you still need to adapt to them and use them as dictated by their small screens, buttons, and controls.
There is another major concern here. Electronic equipment is among the world's fastest-growing trash streams, a big source of hidden waste. A staggering 86 kilograms of waste are produced during the manufacture of just one smartphone. Just this single figure demands that we explore alternatives.
Smartphones will soon have run their course, so it's time for us to look at the way we imagine personal tech in sci-fi. Our imaginary advanced gadgets must offer visual output that covers a full field of view; they must always be prepared to instantly perceive and interpret natural human input. AR/XR glasses offer an approximation of this user experience but can at best pass for a crude proof-of-concept made of available ‘ingredients’.
We believe that the actual next generation of personal computing devices that we call extended computing will help humans transcend some of our natural limitations. It will succeed smartphones to become the dominant personal computing device, as long as it:
(a) retains the size and look of the existing contact lenses,
(b) is capable enough to cover not just some but all personal computing tasks,
(c) becomes one infinite screen that brings together all personal gadgets and data.
This may seem far-fetched to many due to the perceptive inertia of the traditional, silicon-based understanding of electronics. But we don’t have to be bound to it.
Recent research into novel 2D materials has opened a whole new world of possibilities for technological processes. Not only can we build waveguides, lenses, filters, modulators, and other optical components that defy conventional wisdom, but we can also design logical circuitry made of layered 2D materials that relies on photonics.
Our in-house team of physicists is led by Valentyn Volkov, one of the world’s top experts in photonics. They work in lockstep with our engineers to bridge cutting-edge science and product development. Progress in this area will unlock a whole new industry and bring about new categories of devices to be designed and mass-produced.
The revolutionary products are defined by their ability to deliver the most suitable form factor for an in-demand use case. A smart contact lens, the way we imagine it, sits exactly in this sweet spot. Everything the modern digital technologies have to offer, from enhanced sensing and communication to smart control of the tech around us, to contextually useful information, can be blended and seamlessly brought into a user’s field of view. This is going to be the next big thing, the next era-defining personal gadget, just like laptops and phones before it.