UI For Every Eye
The Mojo Blog sits down with SVP of Software Engineering Phil Graham to talk about the unique apps and OS that will power Mojo Lens
Where do you even start when creating software for something like Mojo Lens? What’s the first step?
Right now we're really focused on building that very first architecture, the operating system that's going to host applications. The apps and OS will actually live in a few different places depending on the compute power and external data required for each.
Some elements of our architecture ultimately can live inside the lens, but they may not do much at first. Some will live on an accessory device or mobile phone. There will definitely be parts of our architecture that live in the cloud.
And then other applications may be a combination of those environments. So, you can imagine applications running across all of them or just a few of these places. Something like a biometric sensor is pretty simple and could live in the lens, while a translation or travel app would have to grab external data from the Internet.
But beyond the apps and experiences people see, we need to build out the infrastructure of the OS. We need to make sure it's secure, safe and that there's an ability to add and remove apps, just like a smartphone.
So there will be third-party apps for Mojo Lens?
Yes, and in the long run that’s what most wearers will be using day-to-day. Right now, we’re developing apps in-house so we can prove that this system is functioning as expected. We call these demonstration apps. After that, we'll have various select, invited developers who’ll work very closely with us to develop applications.
Beyond that, we'll open it up wider so select developers interested in creating apps for Mojo Lens can do so. Eventually we’ll have some kind of app store where apps can be hosted and downloaded. We’re also carving out a place in the OS where data can be stored and shared between apps, making them more contextual.
On Mojo Lens, how will a user control the interface without using an external pointer, such as a mouse, touchscreen, or stylus?
The “eye UI,” as we’ve nicknamed it, creates a completely unique paradigm for how to drive the interface. We’re figuring out how to utilize what the eye is good at—looking in a specific direction. With the UI, we’ll need to learn how the eye can best operate to select things while allowing users to go about their everyday activities. It’s not a problem you solve overnight. Throughout the history of computing, each new paradigm has created new challenges because it's brought with it a different interface. The first computer mice and keyboards were limited, but over time they got kept getting better. That’s what’s happening at Mojo right now.
We just spoke with Renaldi Winoto from the ASIC team. He says the hardware and software teams meet often. What do you talk about?
As ours is a next-generation platform, we’re experiencing the classic hardware-software tug of war. Software always wants more compute power, memory—more everything—and hardware wants to optimize around what we need right now. What I've learned over the years is never bet against Moore's law. Moore's law happens and it's still happening across chips of all sizes, so computing power in two years will be double what it is now. As they tell hockey players, you skate to where the puck's going, not where it is. So we’re developing for where the power will be when the lens is ready—not just where it’s at today.
Before Mojo you were making systems for autonomous vehicles. Any shared learnings between that field and ours?
My responsibility with autonomous vehicles was the digital experience for passengers inside the car itself. But Mojo Lens, if you think about it, is kind of the same. It can be a display in your vehicle. It has a CMOS image sensor for context. It’s connected to the network. It's running apps. It has a lot of the same ingredients. I mean, autonomous cars and smart contact lenses are totally different—yet in a way they’re also very similar.
What kind of app or functionality do you think would be really useful—or cool—for Mojo Lens to have?
Golf is a hobby I enjoy on weekends. I have a few favorite courses I play regularly, but I like visiting a new course every couple of months. It’s a fun challenge, but remembering the details of a new course can be time consuming. I want to get a club recommendation, how to play a hole and hazards warnings without having to pull up a map or phone screen so I can focus on my swing. There's so many great opportunities like that.
When I went to Israel back in 2000—before smartphones—I brought my SLR camera and I took a lot of pictures. I went back again about 10 years later and took pictures in the same spots. Every picture I have from the second trip has somebody holding up a smartphone or looking down at a screen. I would love to see a day where our smartphones can be more easily pocketed so we enjoy the moment.