Spec-techular’ Developments in Eyewear

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The buzz surrounding Google’s announcement that it is developing a new type of eyewear with a heads-up display incorporating smartphone functions has grown louder since the search and advertising giant released a tantalizing video demo a few months ago showing its proprietary technology in action. The so-called Google Glasses, which consist of a sleek, lightweight metal frame that holds a tiny, clear screen—but no lenses—would allow wearers to access online content, navigate with GPS, and send and receive messages as well as photographs or video taken from the wearer’s point of view.

Although some VM readers might consider Google Glasses to be unrelated to the optical industry, their pending launch has focused worldwide attention on a rapidly emerging category of eyewear products in which audio, video and smart technologies are converging to give the wearer a new way of viewing the world. It’s all pretty “spec-techular,” if you ask me.

If you attended the session on “Innovation and the Eye” at VM’s 2012 Global Leadership Summit, you got a glimpse of some other cutting-edge technologies that are expanding the limits of human vision and providing us with new diagnostic tools. If you want to see the session, you can watch videos of the speakers at www.visionmondaysummit.com/2012/.

The fact that some of these new technologies in eyewear and eyecare are not specifically oriented toward vision correction should not deter eyecare professionals and optical retailers from becoming involved or at least taking an active interest in them. Whatever form these new technologies take, they will interact with our visual system and create new ways of seeing and experiencing the world. Patients will need guidance in navigating this new terrain, and ECPs with knowledge and experience will be best positioned to help them. And what’s good for patients is always good for business, too.

akarp@jobson.com