PixelOptics Re-Emerges With Plan to Introduce Second Generation of Empower Eyewear

ROANOKE, Va.—Electronic eyewear pioneer PixelOptics is preparing to re-emerge with a redesigned version of its Empower product and a new approach to manufacturing.

The Roanoke-based company, which attracted widespread media coverage when it launched its innovative Empower electronic focusing eyewear in 2011, has kept a low profile since mid-2012, when issues with the product’s optics, electronics and design caused it to “amend the rate of the Gen.1 launch,” according to Brett Craig, PixelOptics president and CEO. Now, after selling more than 1,000 units of the first-generation product, PixelOptics has stopped distribution of it as of March 1 and is readying an improved, second-generation product for a U.S. and European launch later this year, Craig told VMail.

“PixelOptics was pleased with the initial reaction to Empower eyewear,” said Craig, a former president of Transitions Optical who became president of PixelOptics in December, 2011. “However, as with any new category introduction, the company learned early on what could be improved, in terms of refining the optics, electronics, and the design of the eyewear. With a goal toward optimizing the patient experience, we refocused our energies on all facets of the business, to ensure that we developed a more robust technology and service delivery platform for the second generation product.

“The company has been repositioned, not just the technology but the service model and partner alignment,” Craig continued. “It will be a strongly viable service and solutions model moving forward in 2013.”

Craig said PixelOptics has set up a program to service customers who purchased the first-generation Empower eyewear and will announce the details shortly.

The second-generation Empower product still features PixelOptics’ proprietary, wearer-activated invisible electronic near focus zone, which is placed within a lightweight composite lens with a thin transparent liquid crystal layer, Craig said. A microchip, accelerometer and miniature rechargeable batteries are embedded inside the temples of the eyeglass frames.

The new version of Empower features several improvements over the earlier version, according to Craig. “We’ve redesigned the electronics, optics, coatings and frames,” he explained. “We’ve enhanced the visual experience in the optics with a more fully optimized design. This is especially apparent in the electronic reading zone.”

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