InWith: the Metaverse in a Contact Lens?

A prototype of the InWith contact lens (source: Forbes)

The 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES for short) starts in Las Vegas a couple of days, although many would-be attendees are changing their plans at the last minute, thanks to the highly-infectious Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus! (You wouldn’t get me on an airplane nowadays if you held a gun to my head.)

Among the companies who plan to present products at CES 2022 is the Irvine, Calfornia-based engineering firm InWith, with a first-of-its-kind contact lens. A press release sent out today states:

InWith Corporation is showing at CES 2022, potentially the most advanced platform for viewing the coming Metaverse; an electronic soft contact lens platform designed for the masses to wear comfortably, enabling easy transition from real world to Metaverse, at will. InWith is planning to achieve FDA Breakthrough Clearance this year and to put the futuristic contact lenses on the market shortly thereafter.

The first applications of the technology will be “tunable vision” via mobile device and “augmented vision” coupled with mobile device control. These markets have been called multi-billion dollars by themselves, but the ultimate application may be fully immersive Metaverse viewing, offering users a super lightweight, virtually invisible way to go back and forth from real world viewing to the Metaverse…

InWith is the only company thus far, to publicly display this capability to integrate component circuitry into modern, soft contact lens materials. InWith is working with top Fortune 50 companies presently, to secure and introduce the first viable iterations of this technology in the market with the backing of several hundred patents in 2022.

Despite the repeated namedropping of the Metaverse (with a capital M), it seems pretty clear from this press release that accessing the metaverse via contact lens is still a far ways off into the future. Still, somewhat intrigued, I went to take a gander at their website, sporting a opening page with a definite new-age meditation vibe, where you have to click on the VISIONARIES WELCOME button (get it?) to get to the actual content:

Image course: the InWith website

ULTIMATE XR PLATFORM

Imagine a patented technology that enables computer circuitry to be embedded into name-brand soft contact lenses like those already worn by millions of people. This makes our platform the ultimate discrete wearable XR technology.

(Not sure if they actually meant “discrete”, meaning individually separate and distinct, or if they meant “discreet”, meaning intentionally unobtrusive; I suspect they meant the latter, since the device is similar to a “hidden” hearing aid. It just absolutely drives me up the wall when people confuse these two words with very different meanings!)

A MULTIVERSE PLATFORM

Our patented platform enables a multiverse of applications within a single contact lens, from XR to tunable focus, to Biosensors, these are just a few examples.

They have a partnership with the contact lends maker Bausch & Lomb. Charlie Fink wrote about it for Forbes:

InWith co-founder and CEO Michael Hayes says the unique marriage  marriage of highly biocompatible materials with 3-D flexible microelectronics embedded into molded hydrogel devices, which InWith calls “smart biology,” may be on the market “in the near future.” 

With InWith’s technology, the augmented lens is just like the soft contact lens 150 million people use every day. Except they’re connected to your phone. They harvest energy from the normal blinking of the eyes. Check your blood sugar. Send alerts and notifications. “This opens the door to hundreds of new devices: blood chemistry for cancer and virus detection, drug delivery, artificial organ parts with electronics for movement,” said Hayes in an interview. “This is the next big wave; the merger of the mobile device into the human body for full monitoring of your health. It will lead to less disease and longer lives.” 

Some of the elements of the InWith contact lens (source: Forbes)

There’s really very little additional information on the website, but that might change after any announcements the company makes at the CES trade show. Stay tuned! However, I wouldn’t throw out your virtual reality headset just yet… 😉

To learn more about InWith, visit their website or follow them on social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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