Expert insight as eyewear gets smart

EVERYDAY LIFE & CULTURE

The Romans were the first to discover glass can be manipulated to magnify objects.1 Since then, there has been a steady march toward more sophisticated eyewear in the vision care industry.


Modern technology is creating opportunities to make eyeglasses about more than just correcting vision. Augmented reality can turn our everyday vision into an interactive experience. And imagine being able to monitor health and wellness, as well as sleep patterns through your eyewear. 

Where is the evolution of eyewear going? One person who has a good idea is Denis Cohen-Tannoudji, Senior VP of Emerging Technologies and Business Models for EssilorLuxottica. We had questions and he had answers.


What is smart eyewear?

When people think of smart eyewear, they typically think of augmented reality. Like what Google tried to do 10 years ago with Google Glass. Augmented reality is still the objective for many AR/VR users, but engineers have been trying to develop a less bulky, heavy product. AR/VR players want an all-day wearable that looks like regular eyewear, but with all the functionality built into the frame. This becomes a big challenge.

There is a simpler concept, like what EssilorLuxottica did with Ray-Ban Stories—a frame connected to a phone app. Ray-Ban Stories can capture videos and photos from the camera in the frame. There is also audio, so users can have a phone call or listen to music. This opens new doors to other applications working with these frames as well. The light and sleek frame is designed so that the heavy lifting (processing) is done on the phone itself. This eliminates the clunky appearance. All the wearer needs to do is put on their favorite pair of smart shades to start experiencing life hands-free. 
 

Did you know? Ray-Ban Stories can capture video and photos from the camera built directly into the frame. This innovative product has 3 built-in microphones so the user can answer a phone call or listen to music hands-free. Wearers can also share content with ease via the Facebook View app built into their Ray-Ban Stories operating system.

What are the practical, everyday applications of smart eyewear?

We can think about wearables for wellness and health. A kind of Fitbit in a frame, made with weather-resistant hardware to monitor parameters of your body or your environment—such as step counting, posture, light exposure and heart rate. Now these features are translatable to smart glasses and users can record anything from exercise, to music, to life's important moments from a wearable hands-free device. 

There are many non-visual eye functions that can be managed by taking care of your eyes. Our biological clock, for example, is controlled by light rays that reach the retina and modulate hormones in the brain. Understanding the way our eyes react to external stimuli can help manage mood, sleep and migraines. There is also the potential to affect cognition load and mood based on the lens. It’s critical to ensure your employees are informed about their eye health and have educational resources. 


What can we expect for the future of smart eyewear?

Cohen-Tannoudji shares that this is a very exciting time for smart eyewear developments and the innovation behind product development.

“This is an entirely new field for EssilorLuxottica, but we are starting to have some clinical evidence and proof of concept. This is definitely an interesting playing field in the market.”

To learn more about EyeMed vision care benefits and how innovations in eyewear will impact your employees – visit eyemed.com.


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1 – “The History of Eyeglasses;” Atlantic Eye Institute; atlanticeyeinstitute.com; October 28, 2021.

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