Newly Formed Mitsui Subsidiary to Revive PixelOptics Electronic Eyewear

By

Yasunori Nishiyama, CEO, Whole You.

SAN JOSE, Calif.—When the PixelOptics company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in November, 2013, the future of the company’s pioneering electronic, autofocusing eyewear technology was uncertain.

The patented technology, which was developed by PixelOptics and Panasonic Healthcare, was subsequently acquired at auction by Mitsui Chemical, Inc., the Japanese company that is a leading supplier of high-index resins used to make eyeglass lenses. Now, a year later, a newly formed Mitsui subsidiary called Whole You, Inc. is preparing to reintroduce and reposition an improved version of PixelOptics eyewear.

PixelOptics is only one of the technologies being marketed by Whole You, a San Jose-based start-up dedicated to helping people with sensory and physical mobility challenges. The company will also offer products made by Dentca, a Los Angeles company specializing in CAD/CAM technology for denture production that Mitsui has also acquired.

“Whole You provides solutions for a range of sensory and physical mobility challenges to drastically improve the quality of life for our customers and enable them to better enjoy life’s pleasures,” said Yasunori Nishiyama, CEO, Whole You. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such innovative technology offerings by Dentca, PixelOptics and Panasonic Healthcare. The product offerings and pipelines acquired are being reviewed to determine where we can apply our material science expertise to bring the best products to market in 2015.”

The demand for practical solutions to sensory and physical mobility issues has never been higher, according to Whole You. The company cites statistics released by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that indicate there are approximately 20.6 million noninstitutionalized adults living with vision trouble, 37.6 million with hearing trouble and 74.6 million with at least one basic action difficulty or complex activity limitation.

Nishiyama told VMail that Mitsui has made some improvements to the original PixelOptics eyewear, called emPower, which suffered from design and production flaws.

“The technology we acquired allows you to see the near distance more clearly by electronically switching on the liquid crystal of the lower part of the lens,” he explained. “The acquisitions also include a technology that emPower did not have that enables a more comfortable vision through such measures like the improved liquid crystal section.”

Nishiyama did not offer a timetable for when the new PixelOptics product would be released, nor did he offer details about how Whole You plans to market and distribute the electronic, prescription eyewear. However, he emphasized that Whole You plans to sell the new PixelOptics product through vision care professionals.

Approximately 1,000 pairs of PixelOptics eyewear were sold to customers in the U.S. between 2011, when the PixelOptics company launched the product and 2013, when the company folded. Nishiyama said Whole You does not plan to support those customers.