Dispensary Viewpoint

Optical Technology Highlights the Consumer Electronics Show

Jan. 27, 2016

Andrew Karp, group editor, Lenses & Technology, 20/20 and Vision Monday, reports that optical technology is being applied in many exciting and experimental new products showcased at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. Karp notes the great opportunity eyecare practitioners, particularly those with sports vision niches, have in the emergence of smart eyewear. Products that look like stylish sunwear, but which feature a high-definition camera, or a screen with performance data, are now available for your patients.

Among the 37 football fields worth of technology at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas were many companies offering new eyewear technology, and other vision-related technology. “This year was a different experience for me,” says Karp, who has attended CES for the last several years. “I was able to see a number of companies there coming from the eyewear and optical side, as opposed to purely tech companies. In addition to companies like Samsung or Oculus, that are showing new virtual reality technologies, now you have a company like Carl Zeiss, which was there with a pair of innovative smart glasses.”

Intel, whose chairman gave a keynote address at the show, is currently working with Luxottica in its Oakley division to create smart sunglasses designed to improve athletic performance. Karp says there also was a company at the conference, RightEye, demonstrating a new type of vision testing technology using eye tracking technology, which will allow people to track their vision performance at home, visit the eye doctor for sports vision training, and then practice the exercises or techniques, learned at the doctor’s office, at home.

These new products offer a great opportunity for eyecare practitioners with strong sports vision practices. “I can’t imagine why a practitioner, who has a sports vision practice, wouldn’t want to take advantage of some of these new products,” says Karp. “Some of them are great looking. They just look like very cool pairs of sunwear, while some you wouldn’t know are smart glasses unless somebody told you.”

The high-tech glasses available now range from those with built-in high-definition, GoPro-style cameras, to sunglasses with special lenses, or shields, that display data about the wearer’s athletic performance. “I think there’s a great fit right there for eyecare professionals,” says Karp. The other area of opportunity is in wearable technology that helps improve professional performance. “The other interesting thing was industry and business using smart eyewear in very practical applications that can help in training in different processes and systems that allow an operator to look at a screen and get data from that, and then be able to perform their job better. That’s a huge area of growth, and almost every smart eyewear company I saw is pitching products to that segment of the market.”

Andrew Karp is group editor, Lenses & Technology for 20/20 and Vision Monday. To contact him: AKarp@jobson.com.

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