|Google Glass can respond to voice commands, translate languages, answer questions, and get travel information.|
|Icis prescription eyewear from Laforge Optical can sync with the wearer’s smartphone.|
Interesting technologies are moving into eyewear. Here’s a look at what’s coming our way.
Eyewear was a major category at the Consumer Electronics Show held January 2014 in Las Vegas. With over 200 million adults in the U.S. wearing some type of eyewear, some companies are incorporating technology in the form of a camera, phone, computer screen, Internet, email, or audio player into the eyewear.
Google Glass can respond to voice commands like “take a video,” or “take a picture,” or “get directions.” It can translate languages, answer questions, get travel information, and more. The original version is a lightweight wrap-around-the-forehead design with a prism lens in the upper right quadrant that displays the content. The screen is positioned so that you can look at it (or not) without obstructing normal viewing. It runs on an Android computer built into the flexible cyborg-like mounting. The newest version accommodates most prescriptions and has some expanded functions. Luxottica recently announced that it will partner its Oakley and Ray-Ban‘ brands with Google Glass.
The goal of Epiphany Eyewear is to produce augmented reality eyeglasses for the general public. While currently only available to select customers, they will soon be ready to ship to anyone. Epiphany can be fitted with Rx lenses. The camera has a 720 wide-angle lens (wider than Google Glass) and a long-lasting battery. Epiphany is working on facial recognition, gesture API (which can fly a drone or use an iPad), and a whole series of apps. The eyewear has a “geek chic” look, but with one simple button and an ultra-light plastic material, they’re cosmetically appealing enough to be featured on the runway.
Laforge Optical is introducing Icis prescription eyewear with a Heads-Up Display (HUD) that looks like conventional eyewear. “We’re coming out with the world’s first pair of prescription augmented reality glasses catered to fashion,” says Corey Mack, founder and CEO. The eyeglasses can sync with the wearer’s smartphone and keep the wearer connected to the cloud with an unobtrusive display that appears on the temporal side of the lens. That leaves an unimpeded central view. All functions are activated by tapping the temples which also feature a camera, speaker, and microphone that will augment the hardware in the wearer’s smartphone. Eventual rollout of Icis is timed for later this year.
SMITH I/O RECON GOGGLES
For the ultimate in a ski goggle, take a look at Smith Optics’ I/O Recon Snow 2. It can connect to a smartphone with Bluetooth technology, track vertical speed, ambient temperature, and altitude. I/O Recon Snow 2 can also track skiing partners, check social networks, play music, and even track jump analytics for those who are into freestyle snowboarding or skiing. There’s a nice range of interchangeable lens choices, and all are anti-fog. The display is HUD.
A growing category of futuristic eyewear is focusable optics where patients adjust the lens powers for their needs. Think of having a pair of eyeglasses where the full lens is adjusted in power based on the working distance.The biggest player in this category is Adlens U.S., which makes several variable optics products. The Focuss offers astigmatic correction in a standard frame along with variable optics, which the company positions as a substitute for progressives. Its newest offering, Adlens Sundials™, is instantly adjustable sunwear that can correct over 90% of spherical errors.
Eyewear is the perfect platform for wearable electronics. Expect a lot more innovation in this category.
Sharon Leonard is a licensed optician and contact lens practitioner in the Syracuse, NY, area.
|WHERE TO FIND IT:|