At a recent gathering of highly knowledgeable and well-informed opticians and optometrists, the topic of wearable electronics came up. To my surprise, the vast majority of the group felt that eyewear was not going to play much of a role in this revolution.
If you’ve read this column before, you know that I’m a huge fan of wearable technology and I believe eyewear is going to be an important component. Okay, there are many other ways for wearables to be utilized by humans, for example, implanting a chip in a blood vessel to monitor blood pressure and analyze a wealth of blood chemistry components on a continual basis. The smartwatch is being touted as a huge step forward. All of these applications and so many more will be part of the wearable electronic market for sure, but eyewear has its place and the optical industry should be diligently and extensively pursuing its potential.
Want proof it’s going to be big? In June, Intel acquired a Canadian wearable display company named Recon Instruments that makes wearable electronic eyewear displays. Intel’s intention is to “expand the market for head-mounted displays.” While Google has taken a hiatus from this space, Intel is working on eyewear and non-eyewear products that will broaden its footprint in the wearables market.
Look at XOEye Technologies. The company touts that wearable technology represents the next wave of business communications. XOEye Technologies’ CEO, Aaron Salow, suggests that about every 20 years, some technology comes along that fundamentally changes how workers communicate with each other. He points to the fax machine in the ’70s and email in the ’90s as examples. Salow suggests that wearable smartglasses will be the next big technology boon to business. The company’s XOeye product uses an ANSI safety-certified frame-its earpieces contain the eyewear’s battery and the computerization needed. The frame has a video camera built into its bridge and two-way audio is part of the temple earpieces. It can also be equipment with additional devices like a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and more.
Shrewd companies are experimenting with eyewear wearable technologies so expect to see a lot more of this stuff in the near future. Once this technology catches on with consumers, it’s going to be big.