Incorporating Technology Into Today’s Electronic Eyewear

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Go to VisionMondaySummit.com for Summit highlights, including VM’s overview story summarizing the presentations of the day, a slide show, PDFs and videos of speaker presentations.



   
 Andrew Karp, Jobson’s group editor, lenses & technology, offered his perspective on new electronic vision technologies.
The panel (l to r) XPand’s Ami Dror; eSight Corp.’s Kevin Rankin; DigitalVision Systems’ Keith Thompson, MD; and 4iiii Innovations’Kip Fyfe, fielded questions from the audience. 
Andrew Karp, VM’s group editor, lenses and technology, introduced the Eye2 session, which focused on new electronic vision technologies such as those covered in Eye2, VM’s monthly e-newsletter.

“Eyewear has become a vehicle for new technologies that can provide us unlimited access to information about our world and ourselves,” he said.

The session led off with Ami Dror, co-founder and chief strategy officer, XPand, a 3-D eyeglass company that is incorporating elements of active 3-D technology into new electronic eyewear products that have clinical applications.

Dror discussed Xpand’s newest product, Amblyz, a prescription eyeglass for treating amblyopia that uses electronic shuttering technology derived from the company’s 3-D glasses. “Kids don’t have to look like pirates anymore,” he said, referring to the traditional amblyopia treatment that requires children to wear a patch over one eye. Dror said XP is developing other applications for the technology, including motion sickness electronic LCD glasses with an additional UV sun protection filter and the ability to strobe that it will introduce in May. The company is also developing “dynamic protection sunglasses,” he said.

Dror concluded by offering his own glimpse into the future of the optical industry. “We know how to make wearable computers, and we know how to manipulate your brain,” Dror asserted. “What if we can force you to blink the way we want you to blink? Then we can change your mood, or help you relax.” He predicted that in the not too distant future, “we will be wearing screens in our eyeglasses instead of lenses, and be able to change our prescriptions electronically.”

To view video highlights of this session, click here.

Kevin Rankin, president and CEO of eSight Corp., offered a different perspective on using electronic eyewear for clinical purposes. He said eSight has developed electronic, web-capable eyeglasses that incorporate refractive lenses and are designed to help restore “functional mobile vision” to people with vision impairments. “We see electronic eyewear as part of the ecosystem of a connected world,” said Rankin.

“eSight glasses use image processing technology with real time contrast performance enhancement,” he explained. “They send images through neural pathways that are still working to get a better signal to the retina.” He said clinical tests show users have as much as a five to six line acuity gain.

Rankin said there is a significant market for the device, adding that eSight’s “fan base” is people who have between 20/60 and 20/400 vision. “People from eight to 88 years-old are wearing it now,” he noted.

Keith Thompson, MD, the founder and CEO of DigitalVision Systems, presented a new “virtual refraction” technology that is intended to replace the conventional phoropter. “The phoropter is to vision care what the stethoscope is to medicine,” he said. “It is elegant in its simplicity. But it does not provide the patient with a 21st century experience.”

Thompson said that DigitalVision Systems’ new refraction system uses real world images that are more patient-friendly. Another advantage is that any type of progressive lens can be shown in real time, providing a method for matching patients with lenses based on their visual habits and wearing needs. “This lets ECPs upsell patients to premium products. It will be a profit generator,” Thompson said.

Kip Fyfe, CEO of 4iiii Innovations, presented Sportiiii, a wearable, heads-up device that can be attached to any eyeglass frame. It provides athletes with biometric data, such as their heart rate, through an array of colored lights that appear in the wearer’s peripheral vision. “Athletes need real-time feedback,” he said. “We provide them with a set of information that’s relevant to what they are doing.”

Fyfe said other wearable sports monitoring technologies, such as watch-based devices, “are a pain to use.” In contrast, Sportiiii has “an intuitive user interface, hands-free audio feedback, iPhone or PC connectivity and is affordable,” he said.

“The heads-up market is here to stay,” Fyfe predicted. “Google Glass is going to make heads-up cool. Integration into glasses is going to be the next step.”

akarp@jobson.com