PogoTec’s innovative Pogo-Track discreetly attaches electronic devices, such as cameras, pedometers, health monitors and more to eyewear.
With the increasing interest in wearable electronics, far-sighted vision-related companies are developing eyewear systems in response. One such company is PogoTec, headed by Ronald D. Blum, OD, whose extensive list of patented electronic eyewear innovations is among the longest.
ON TRACK FOR SUCCESS
The company’s latest innovation, Pogo-Track, is a cleverly designed track that discreetly attaches wearable electronic devices to eyewear. The metal strip is incorporated within the temple as a design element to maintain the eyewear’s fashion intent. A wide variety of electronic devices, including webcams/cameras, GPS devices, UV meters, alertness detectors, air quality control monitors and pedometers, can be magnetically attached to the track. Because the track is part of the frame’s design, the wearer can use the eyewear without an electronic device or add one at any time. An eyeglass wearer might have two pairs of general purpose eyeglasses and a pair of sunglasses but will only need one camera, for example, because the devices are compatible with all Pogo-Track-enabled eyeglasses.
After 17 years and many attempts to place the components of electronic eyewear into the frame, Blum concluded, “From a viability and commercialization perspective, it’s better not to put the electronics inside the eyeglass frame because it increases the thickness (if ever so slightly) of the frame, increases the cost of making the product and the cost to the consumer, and it reduces the consumer’s eyewear choices.” Blum suggested that the lack of success among currently available electronic eyewear is because of all of these factors but especially the choice factor. “In the eyewear industry, fashion trumps function for the consumer. That’s what Google misunderstood with Google Glass and why it failed,” observed Blum.
“What we envision is a standard track for the optical industry that all eyeglass frame companies employ,” said Blum. “This standard will encourage device manufacturers to design a variety of products for eyeglasses, and eyewear companies will be encouraged to incorporate it because of its universal application to attachable products. Right now, we’re in the process of licensing Pogo-Track technology to a number of eyewear manufacturers. The wearable electronic device market is currently at $8 billion and forecast to be over $75 billion in less than 10 years. Pogo-Track gives the eyewear industry a simple means of sharing in this rocketing growth.” Blum added that Pogo-Track does not increase the thickness or weight of a temple, adds only pennies to the manufacturing cost of a pair of eyeglasses, and it can be added to metal or plastic frames.
PogoTec is also developing Pogo-Cam, a tiny webcam/camera that magnetically fits the Pogo-Track. The applications for this device are pretty universal and include taking pictures of family and friends, sporting events, documenting work procedures, sending images to remote locations for evaluation, documenting public safety interactions and other functions that require a handy camera. Images are wirelessly transferred to a smartphone. The tiny camera is approximately the size of half your pinky finger, weighs less than two dimes and can be recharged in 35 minutes.
Pogo-Cam is recharged wirelessly using the company’s Pogo-Power device. The unit’s wireless charging technology is envisioned to power other Pogo-Track-enabled products too. “One advantage of Pogo-Power over other wireless recharging systems is its ability to charge remarkably small devices like the Pogo-Cam or a hearing aid,” Blum explained. “Pogo-Power’s proprietary technology and design are the keys to doing this.
An exciting potential application for this product outside the optical space is the remote recharging of implanted medical devices such as pacemakers, cochlear implants, insulin pumps and nerve stimulators. Pogo-Power uses a body-safe frequency transmitted electromagnetically that can pass through human tissue, bone, titanium and other substances. PogoTec is just beginning work in this area.
With all its technologies, it’s clear that PogoTec is focused on the future of eyewear-enabled electronic wearable devices and is developing products it envisions will take the optical industry there.
Ed De Gennaro MEd, ABOM, is director, professional content of First Vision Media Group.