SVOne Autorefractor from Smart Vision Labs

Smart Vision Labs Releases Next Generation Wavefront Autorefractor

Smart Vision Labs Releases Next Generation Wavefront Autorefractor

New York, NY – July 27, 2017, Smart Vision Labs (https://www.smartvisionlabs.com/) announced today the release of their newest wavefront autorefractor in their SVOne series of digital diagnostic tools. The latest device incorporates advances in technology and the scientific algorithms which produce accurate and instantaneous results for doctors. The autorefractor has a 40% improvement in the precision of the refraction, is twice as fast returning results when compared to the previous version and requires minimal training. Additionally, the SVOne includes new hardware which eliminates most alignment issues.

Smart Vision Labs autorefractor technology has been validated by three different clinical studies which show the accuracy and effectiveness of the autorefractor in a number of different settings. The device is ideal in many situations including mobile optometry practices, nursing homes, school screenings, optical practices and any doctor who is looking for a cost-effective wavefront autorefractor. With a small footprint, this is an ideal product for locations with limited area and can easily be moved from room to room. One of the significant updates to the device has been a new stand which eliminates most alignment issues. The device can also be attached to a standard tripod for easier portability.

“The demand for our original wavefront autorefractors has been amazing and our customers asked us to continue the production of new devices”, said Yaopeng Zhou, Smart Vision Labs, CEO and Co-Founder. “After years of refinement and improvement, feedback from doctors and the optometric market, the current product offers mature presentation of our patented wavefront technology. There are no other wavefront devices which can compete with our product’s quality, price and accuracy.“

The device is ready to ship and can be purchased or leased directly from Smart Vision Labs. To schedule a demo, place an order or to get more information about the SVOne series of autorefractors contact sales@smartvisionlabs.com or call 212-796-6124. Smart Vision Labs will be attending Vision Expo West in September and showcasing the new autorefractor at their booth MS3034.

About Smart Vision Labs
Smart Vision Labs is making vision care less expensive, less complicated, and more accessible. Using the SVone Autorefractor doctors and optical stores can use the power of wavefront aberrometry to provide prescriptions for glasses in minutes. Their proprietary technology shrinks expensive, bulky equipment to a portable device that is adapted to both a stand alone autorefractor and a telemedicine platform. Smart Vision Labs aims to increase access to vision care by leveraging technology and innovation. Over 60,000 vision tests have been performed to date in 23 countries, including in partnership with numerous nonprofits and NGOs providing eye-care services to underserved populations here in the US, India, China, South America and Africa.


How to ensure a new technology implementation is successful - Smart Vision Labs

Four Factors to a Successful Enterprise Technology Implementation

Something that is revolutionary for the rest of the world may not necessarily be the best option for you or your organization. You may decide to buy a new machine to make better lenses, but it turns out it is not simple to use and the time wasted could have been spent on acquiring a new customer. The same thing can be said for new technologies and their implementation in an organization.

However, what people fail to realize is that the new technology implementation often fails because of the miscalculations of the organization. Technology is meant to aid people and complement their daily activities and it is only as good as the people using it. Smart Vision Labs has deduced four factors that contribute to the success of new technology and its enterprise adoption in an organization.

1 – Make Sure the Technology Solution Is Aligned with Your Company’s Plan and People

One way new technology can add value is by aligning it to company goals and objectives. Not only should it be a driver of profits and revenue, it should also benefit the people handling it as well. It should be simple enough to get the job done, achieve great results while making life easier for anyone interacting with it. That “anyone” could range from the CEO to the customer. By making sure that the technology is a good fit for your company, you essentially relieve yourself of many problems including time-consuming firefights, sunk cost, and a waste of resources- if and when the project fails.

One of our earlier clients is a great example of this idea. They have monthly revenue goals which their individual stores are budgeted to hit and their CEO drives this metric down to each individual team member. Our telemedicine platform fit their goals perfectly! The opticians and sales people using it found it effortlessly simple and we helped them increase their capture rate on an individual store level, which lead to even higher revenues and an ROI of 880%!

2 – Understand the Technology

Once you have verified that the technology will be a good fit for the company, it’s time to dive deeper and understand the technology. At this stage, the initial pilot is crucial to ensure its success. By working with the technology provider, the organization should be prepared for any initial uncertainty, commit to training, start identifying kinks in the system, and create processes for analysis and constant feedback. Working with the vendor is vital at this stage. The most innovative technology providers will work closely with the buyer to ensure that the implementation is successful, thus leading to a successful rollout.

One of our partners understood this concept and has excelled because of the time they took to embrace and understand the nooks and crannies of our technology. They launched a pilot and took steps to ensure that everything was recorded and every uncertainty accounted for. Feedback and collaboration worked out to make the implementation a complete success.

An Optical Industry Case Study

A company who has truly embraced technology is Mykita. Mykita is a German manufacturer of hand-crafted prescription frames and glasses. They use acetate, stainless steel, and a unique material called Mylon by employing a 3D printing process called Selective Laser Sintering. Technology is a core part of their design and their success shows it! Because of their design philosophy, they were profitable since their second year and are now in stores all over the world, including Washington DC and New York. Since their inception, they have racked up influencers like Tom Cruise, Lady Gaga, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie, who have embraced their tech savvy designs. This leads us to our next factor: have influencers for your technology.

stanley-tucci-joshua-transformers-age-of-extinction-mykita-mylon-pandara-glasses
Stanley Tucci wearing Mykita Mylon in Transformers

3 – Have an Influencer on board

Mark Zuckerberg once said, “Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend.” A new technology that aligns with the spirit of your company will go even further if it is trusted by the people of your company, and having a person or two to influence that trust is crucial. If it’s a new project based on the new technology, then it should be a strong project manager or leader who takes charge, is exploratory, collaborative, and open to feedback. Given that these people will be the main people communicating up and down the chain of leadership, they will have to command authority. That person will essentially ensure user participation to drive the goals and metrics and will be molding the minds of everyone in the organizations, including the people resisting to accept that the new technology aligns with the company and will drive value. The influencer has to be a truly innovative leader.

A great example of a Smart Vision Labs champion is Vlad from Modern Day Optx. Vlad is an independent optical owner. Even though he is not a part of a large organization, his activities are reminiscent of the points mentioned before. He has internalized all the nuances of our telemedicine solution, he communicates and provide ongoing feedback to improve our product, and makes sure his customers are comfortable with using the technology. He has been able to prove the utilitarian use of our device by vastly improving his capture rate and revenue for his optical store.

screen-shot-2017-07-20-at-5-08-21-pm
Yelp review about Modern Day Optx

4 – Have Fun and be Personal

People are afraid of the unknown and of things they do not understand. Initially, new technology can be intimidating. The trick is to make the technology a personal piece of the lives of the people who are involved with it. Whether it be the CEO, middle-level management, or even the team member on the floor who is pushing to make the daily, weekly, and the monthly sales quota; having fun with the technology is a very important piece of the implementation process. Any company which grasps this factor should have a seamless rollout of the new technology.

How to truly have fun is a question of the organization’s personality. It needs to be worked out between the organization itself and the technology provider. It could be as simple as incentivizing the sales team with gifts when they accomplish a certain usage percentage, to more glamorous things such as throwing a lavish party when they decide to move from the pilot to full enterprise implementation. The end result should always be to inspire the users to embrace the technology.

At Smart Vision Labs, we try to go above and beyond in this category. From sending custom onesies to a partner who had a child, to being with our partners on the floor, celebrating accomplishments with them and making sure that they truly internalize the training; our work is complete when our partners are truly comfortable with our platform. We make sure the education, training, and implementation is a fun experience so everyone is happy to be a Smart Vision Labs optical partner.

An Optical Industry Case Study

Carl Zeiss shook lens manufacturing with their i.Terminal technology. They digitized the tedious and manual process of lens fitting and made the whole experience faster and more accurate. This has led to increased customer satisfaction and improved sales. But the technology has truly been pioneered because of the above mentioned four factors Zeiss had helped foster with their customers. They built a product that provided great value for their customers, the literature and support they provide during the implementation, along with the great customer service, ensured an easy adoption of the technology.

zeiss-iterminal-miracle16-980x308
i. Terminal by Carl Zeiss

A master grasp of these four factors will ensure your organization will have success with a new piece of technology. Effective implementation could be hampered if one or more of the factors are not accounted for. Make sure your team is an important part of the process; take your time to understand why problems happen, and make sure \you have fun when using the technology!

wavefront autorefractor demo - Smart Vision Labs

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Spanish Language Support Now Available for Smart Vision Labs

Breaking Down the Barriers to Vision Care

Breaking Down the Barriers to Vision Care

This week, Smart Vision Labs launched a bilingual option to the telemedicine platform, with the addition of a Spanish version of the vision test. As we continue to expand and as the adoption of our platform steadily increases, we released the bilingual platform to support our Spanish-speaking customers in the United States and our international partners. Far too many people, both those in developing countries and even here in the U.S., are up against barriers preventing them from receiving proper vision care. And here at Smart Vision Labs, we are – figuratively speaking – actively tearing down those barriers.

As of 2016, the U.S. Census reported that the number of native-Spanish speakers in the U.S. reached just over 56 million, making up 17% of our population. And according to an American Community Survey report, 29% of Hispanics say they do not speak English well, and a surprising 18% say they do not speak it at all. Consider that before you spend 4 years in college studying some other foreign language to end up only remembering how to order a drink at a bar. How useful.

The immigrant population is continuing to grow, especially the Spanish-speaking population. With English being far from an easy language to learn, we recognized the importance to adapt to the changing status of our population. With this growing population comes the need for more access to healthcare, and specifically to vision care. The number of people living with uncorrected vision is astounding. Through our own research, we discovered that around 25% of people on the road would fail the DMV vision test. What a reassuring statistic that is… With the release of our Spanish version of the vision exam, we’re hoping that we might begin to mitigate this rather large problem as more people will have easy access to proper vision testing.

But in the grand scheme of things, in the U.S., the Spanish version of the exam will help somewhere between 18-29% of the 56 million Spanish-speakers living here. That’s only roughly 3-5% of the entire U.S. population (18% and 29% multiplied by that 17% above for those not mathematically inclined). So let’s not focus on the potential changes to come to vision care in the U.S., but rather the remarkable, positive changes we foresee in vision correction in South America and other Spanish-speaking countries.

Spanish Speaking Version of Vision Testing App - Smart Vision Labs

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired, and about 90% of those people live in low-income settings. However, over 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured. This means that – in a perfect world – we could reduce visual impairment to 57 million people (more math: 285 times 20%). Now I’m not saying this is likely going to happen. Nonetheless, we’re determined to try.

Let’s take a look at Mexico specifically. Optometry Giving Sight estimates that there are 49 million people in Mexico suffering from vision impairment, many because they simply do not have access to vision exams. Another study, conducted by the Pacific University College of Optometry on a humanitarian mission in Mexico, discovered that 60% of those in the study with visual acuity approaching 20/200 could have improved vision through corrective lenses or glasses. Additionally, 50% of all participants in the study showed visual acuity approaching 20/70, and almost 96% of those were corrected that day with lenses. The fundamental problem with vision care in Mexico is the lack of legislation surrounding it. There is little to no repercussion for inaccurate or poor-quality refracting within the country. And without any recourse or system in place to “quality check”, visual impairment in Mexico is seemingly inevitable.*

This is precisely what we at Smart Vision Labs are trying to change by bringing effective and accurate refracting to the country. With our partnerships, and with the potential to expand substantially thanks to the Spanish version of the exam, we’re confident that we will begin to see the percentage of people in Mexico with corrected vision trending upwards. The census in Mexico estimates that only 5% of citizens speak English. Other sources have pointed towards numbers around 12%. Take from that what you wish. Bottomline is that it’s a very low percentage, so let’s not be pedantic about the exact number.

With the release of the Spanish-language vision exam, we plan to attract an increasingly larger customer-base, those that we were potentially missing before due to language barriers. Additionally, with the convenience of an exam requiring no appointment, we continue to try to eliminate other minor barriers preventing people from receiving vision exams. Going forward we plan to increase the number of languages on our telemedicine platform to provide people all over the world access to our vision exam. So keep an eye out. Who knows, maybe someday those years spent studying a foreign language might just finally come in handy.

Issy Bonebrake is a born-again New Yorker living down in the Village. She considers herself to be a self-proclaimed, cautiously optimistic futurist. As a classic rock aficionado, she enjoys binge watching rockumentaries from the coziness of her less than 500 square footage apartment. Issy spent 5 years studying Italian. It has yet proven to be at all useful to her.

Want to learn more about telemedicine? Request a demo today.

learn more about telemedicine and how it can increase your optical store's business - Smart Vision Labs

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*OPTOMETRY IN THE AMERICAS, by Janet L. Leasher, OD, MPH, FAAO and Scott Pike, OD

Telemedicine Myths and Facts - Smart Vision Labs

Telemedicine Myths and the Truth Behind Them

Telemedicine: Myths and the Truth Behind Them 

How is telemedicine impacting your business? Whether you own one store or are the vice-president of a chain of stores, telemedicine can make a positive impact in several areas from increased customer satisfaction to an overall increase in revenue.

The field of telemedicine has been growing at exponential rates, in a direct correlation with the advances in technology. While this has been considered one of the biggest health trends within the past five years, there are several key elements that distinguish it from a temporary upgrade to a permanent player.

While most changes within a system originate from the top down, (with industry leaders creating a new environment) telemedicine is more of a product of the people than other types of trends. And it all starts with the defining presence of telemedicine.

Telemedicine Myths and Facts - Smart Vision labs
Source: adroitent.com

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology. The keyword is “remote.” No longer do the health care provider and patient need to be in the same room or even in the same country. This is possible through the technology for live video interactions.

While it is the electronic advances that make this possible, it is the consumers who make this profitable (and not only in terms of dollars). Telemedicine is almost an extension of what people already know and accept. A majority of the population is familiar with video chat apps like Skype or Facetime. Most people have easy access to a computer or other mobile device. Technology-based telemedicine is, therefore, a smooth transition from apps that have every day use to ones that become more relevant to personal health care.

Who would have thought that an internet connection would literally upend this entire industry?

And who would have thought that consumers would not only actively use this technology but would find it convenient, cost-effective, and worthy to discuss via social media sites?

How is telemedicine impacting your business? If you’re still not sure about the possibilities and profitability, let’s review some myths and the truths behind them.

Myths about Telemedicine

If you’re not already one of the businesses using telemedicine to support your employees and bolster your revenue, why aren’t you? Is it due to misconceptions? Or just a lack of time?

Whenever a new technology or way of doing things appears, in any field, it tends to be met with skepticism. This is especially true when the new service or method goes in a different direction than the old way, rather than just improving on something that is already established. While asking questions is always a good thing, doing your own investigation for the answers is even better.

Maybe you’re researching telemedicine for yourself right now?

A concern regarding telemedicine is that it’s just a fad, rather than the next big advancement in the field. Doctors who have been practicing for decades aren’t jumping at the prospect of devoting their valuable time to learning technologies which might not be around in a few years’ time. Understandably so. These doctors have seen many health fads come and go over their careers.

However, many of the reasons both health care and business professionals cite for not investing in telemedicine are based on old information or popular misconceptions. Here are a few of the telemedicine myths that have gained the most traction (and why they aren’t factual).

There are two main areas of concern which feed the myths around telemedicine: quality of care and financial investment. Partial truths, outdated information, and misunderstandings about how telemedicine works generated these myths.

Quality of Care Myths

Telemedicine is complicated, confusing, or has too many components to learn.

The verdict: only if you want it to be. You don’t have to hire an IT specialist just to offer telemedicine. While there is a lot happening on the technology side, the part you are likely concerned with rests on the user’s side. Successful platforms have simple, intuitive user interfaces. Some telemedicine applications have even been designed using a traditional doctor’s feedback, which might make using it more familiar to you.

The versatility of telemedicine is beneficial for the provider as well as the patient. The many ways to implement it means you can tailor which telemedicine services would best suit your business, patients, and bottom line. All at the same time.

Telemedicine isn’t secure enough to ensure patients’ privacy.

The verdict: not necessarily. Like nearly anything that companies use, video conferencing comes in two types: consumer and business. Consumer platforms are meant for use by the general public while business-grade applications are created for a targeted solution.

It is true that consumer-grade video conferencing platforms (like Skype and its competitors) are not secure enough to be HIPAA compliant. However, telemedicine-specific technology does exist. There are video conferencing applications which were created solely for use in telemedicine and to honor HIPAA regulations.

Telemedicine can’t replace a physical exam, therefore, it isn’t worth offering.

The verdict: partial truth. It is true telemedicine can’t replace a physical examination but not every doctor visit really requires it. Doctors already give basic medical advice and hold simple discussions with their patients over the phone. Telemedicine just gives patients another option for addressing these minor issues.

Besides people with non-urgent medical concerns, telemedicine benefits other types of patients, particularly those with chronic conditions which need monitoring or those who need follow-ups to in-person visits.

Which is a hint about the next set of myths.

Telemedicine Can Help Grow Your Business - Smart Vision Labs

Financial Myths

Telemedicine is a waste of money and resources because people won’t use it.

The verdict: false. It turns out, people don’t like to wait for things, whether it is at the supermarket checkout, in line for a new smartphone, or for health care. Except with that last one, you don’t get to come home with a new gadget or favorite snack. Nearly everyone has a memory of sitting in their doctor’s waiting room for a quick 5-minute visit while everyone else seems to have fallen victim to flu season.

But, unlike waiting in line for a retail store, the time it takes to see a doctor is even longer. The average time to schedule doctor’s appointments in the United States is 24 days, according to Forbes. Major cities suffer even longer wait times.

Once the patient actually gets in the office, the situation still doesn’t improve. A 2015 Software Advice survey found 97 percent of respondents were upset at long wait times at the doctor, even though 45 percent waited less than 15 minutes. The same survey also reports that 75 percent of patients who have never used telemedicine services would consider trying them.

For non-critical cases, telemedicine provides convenience and flexibility for the patient. Providing supplementary care to traditional health appointments is the ideal use scenario for telemedicine. Think of the reverse side of that situation as well. A busy doctor, in the middle of flu season, uses an appointment block to see a patient that only needed a quick follow-up. Using telemedicine, that doctor can see another patient who does need a physical exam and offer care to the follow-up patient.

Telemedicine doesn’t allow for proper compensation or reimbursement for the doctor.

The verdict: no longer true. There are two aspects to the payment issue: ease of reimbursement and concern about doctors being properly compensated for their time.

Laws and regulations don’t evolve and update with nearly the speed technology does. Although telemedicine has been around for decades, its quick growth is recent. It was previously difficult for providers to be reimbursed for telemedicine use but state laws are finally catching up. 24 states so far have “parity laws” which ensure telehealth services are treated the same as an in-person visit. Insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid are recognizing telemedicine services as legitimate and reimbursing them on a par with traditional visits.

As for compensation, doctors might actually be losing revenue by not delegating some tasks to telemedicine services. Doctors already aren’t being paid for the time they spend refilling prescriptions or discussing medical information with their patients over the phone. That time could be spent with a patient who is physically in their waiting room while the routine prescription refill gets handled by telemedicine. Doing so also increases the satisfaction of the refill patient because you’ve created the convenience of allowing them to not even leave their home.

Telemedicine puts doctors at risk for malpractice lawsuits.

The verdict: false. It’s actually the opposite. To start, it is intended to supplement traditional in-person visits. It alleviates strain on already crowded offices while still offering care to patients who don’t need an exam. It saves money for patients and provides a new point of income for physicians. Telemedicine’s growth in recent years is related to these aspects of expanding health care options. Issuing a malpractice claim to a doctor who used videoconferencing with a patient is absurd when doctors have been discussing medical issues with patients over the telephone for decades. The service didn’t change, the technology did.

Telemedicine actually provides some additional protection against malpractice claims. Especially concerning post-op patients and those with chronic conditions, services like video conferencing create a new point of contact between patient and doctor. The patient can communicate with their physician more often and if problems arise, notice and treat them sooner. It also provides another means to document the services given.

How is Telemedicine Impacting Your Business?

Telemedicine Benefits - Smart Vision Labs
Source: i1.wp.com

Telemedicine impacts businesses in several ways. The technology is effective if you are either the provider of health care services or the facilitator of them. Whether you own an optical store and offer the Smart Vision Labs 5-Minute Smart Vision Exam, or are in charge of a chain of stores that need a boost in revenue, telemedicine can work for you.

This is perhaps the most significant change in the health care industry since it is embraced by a variety of people, from patients to doctors, to insurance providers. As business owners already know, implementing a new course of action requires acceptance and easy compliance, and with telemedicine, those conditions have already been met.

Telemedicine is not only profitable, it’s possible, and that’s the difference between failure and success. Making use of this technology adds value to your business in ways that will position you at the forefront of this healthcare trend that is revealing its true potential with every virtual visit.

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Smart Vision Labs’ List of 5 Best Smart Glasses

List of 5 Best Smart Glasses

The term smart glasses is an understatement. On a very basic level, they function as glasses. Yes, the kind that will help your astigmatism. No vision problems, you say? No worries. The lenses can be non-corrective or you might opt for sunglasses with UV protection.

Yet, these smart glasses are more than just vision-related. They are wearable tech which literally lets you “see” beyond the parameters of the here and now. On a not-so-basic level, they are computers that add information to what you are seeing. This is done through either an optical head-mounted display (OHMD) or embedded wireless glasses with an augmented reality (AR) overlay that can reflect projected digital images. By using cellular technology or Wi-Fi, smart glasses can run self-contained mobile apps. You could even communicate via natural language voice commands.

What Can They Do?

Just about anything.  They can improve vision if you have corrective lenses or protect your eyes from UV exposure to the sun. But that is like saying a car has four tires; you expect that, right?

Smart glasses can let you listen to music, track your activity, make calls, and hear turn-by-turn directions. No need to look at your phone to do these things. Gesture controls allow you to answer a call with a tap on the frames or swipe them to change songs.

While these applications are convenient and cool, there are other possibilities for smart glasses in various sectors. In the workplace, they can provide virtual assistance to employees. No need to memorize a manual of steps to take; these glasses can direct and guide with accuracy. The new employee doesn’t have to be monitored by a colleague, which saves both time and money. Inspections can be done remotely, and supervisors can oversee their staff.

In health care, smart glasses can give patients and doctors a way to communicate. They are an effective tool in telemedicine, allowing doctors to access a patient’s data easily and make an appropriate diagnosis.

Yet, smart glasses are virtually indistinguishable from traditional glasses. They can be just as compact and stylish as their non-tech counterparts. While most people wear glasses because they have to (as in have-to-see-better) smart glasses are worn because they offer so much more than just prescription lenses.

But which one is right for you?

Form, Function, and Dare We Say, Fun?

But specs aren’t the only thing that matters in tech, especially with these “spec-tacles.” Aesthetic has always had a place in tech. People want to use products that aren’t just top-of-the-line but that are attractive. The design of the product becomes even more important in wearable tech. People may compromise on an unattractive laptop but it’s much harder to justify “only specs matter” when the product is right on your face. Especially in recent years, as glasses have gone from necessary for vision correction to unique fashion statements.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, failing to account for this was a major misstep of some of the initial ventures into smart glasses. Many of the earlier models of smart glasses crammed the full spectrum of smartphone features into a pair of glasses. But, as technically impressive as this was, the general public was not enthused. Smart glasses were too “nerdy” and wearing a pair conveyed an interest in tech rather than a futuristic cool. Combined with the privacy concerns of essentially having a fully-functional smartphone hidden in a pair of glasses, the general public rejected the new innovations.

But smart glasses startups have responded to the public and the mistakes of their predecessors. Wearable tech has to package the functions in an aesthetically pleasing package. Newer companies have also recognized the appeal (and necessity) of limiting features. Yes, you can have a fully-functional video camera in a pair of glasses, but is it a good idea?

The Wall Street Journal’s continued coverage of smart glasses includes how they have gone from reaching a broad audience of the general public to more niche sectors. The product can target certain consumers more effectively by improving the features they need and not complicating the process with the ones they don’t.

Here are some notable smart glasses that haven’t abandoned the dream but have re-tooled their product and message to incorporate more fashionable glasses and select features.

Spectacles by Snap Inc.

Were you one of the people who thought glasses that could record video was an interesting feature? Many were at least intrigued by the idea, even if ultimately public privacy concerns overruled the technical capability. But previous product failures didn’t mean the idea needed to be abandoned entirely. Snap definitely didn’t think so.

Snap devised a way to leave the camera in the glasses while protecting others’ privacy in public. They might be the perfect company to take on this challenge. Even if you’re unfamiliar with their Spectacles, you most likely know (or use) the mobile app they are well-known for: Snapchat. Their approach certainly makes good use of both their smart glasses related acquisitions and their popular image messaging platform.

If the average user is seeking to use their smart glasses to take video, chances are they’re looking to share it with friends and followers on social media. Snap Spectacles tackle smart glasses with video recording with respect for security along with simple sharing and do so in a fun-looking pair of sunglasses.

The smart sunglasses show off a bold design and bright color options and while recording, small lights circle around the camera signaling it’s on. Instead of sneaking a camera into glasses, Snap Spectacles make it the focal point. Pressing a button on the frame starts recording a 10-second long Snap. Recorded as a circular video, the glasses sync wirelessly with your smartphone, allowing you to share your Snap.
List of 5 Best Smart Glasses - Snap Spectacles by Smart Vision Labs

Vuzix M300

But not everyone gave up on the amazing technology that allows all the capabilities of a smartphone to reside in a frame and lenses.

The Vuzix M300 builds on the success of their popular M100 glasses. These fully-featured smart glasses don’t forego features to alleviate security concerns. Instead, they changed their marketing strategy.

The first thing you notice about the M300 glasses are their mature, professional appearance. The dark color and simple frame could be found right in an eyeglass showroom, if not for the computer module and camera attached. They also added nose pads so they fit like a regular pair of prescription glasses as well.

Vuzix found their target audience in the business sector. Employees from remote help desk operators to doctors have found smart glasses to be useful in their line of work. Anyone who needs their hands free while they access a computer could benefit from smart glasses. This is especially vital for people whose fields are unpredictable or requires managing many aspects at once. Having fully-featured smart glasses keeps them from being tied to a mobile device or computer to read and relay information.

Vuzix M300 makes the List of 5 Best Smart Glasses by Smart Vision Labs

ODG R-7HL

ODG R-7HL made the list of Smart Vision Labs top 5 Smart Glasses
Source: augmented.reality.news

The technology and highly specific applications in which smart glasses excel is a perfect match for businesses who have technical tasks which need to be performed efficiently and safely. You might easily picture smart glasses right at home in a boardroom meeting but what about workers with more physical professions?

Like Vuzix, ODG also finds their ideal consumer is in an enterprise. Like other recent smart glasses, they know design is just as important as what features are included. Combining their enterprise consumer, the relation of design and function, along with the idea that more hands-on professions can benefit from smart glasses resulted in the R-7HL glasses.

The R-7HL glasses might not be as attractive as some of the other models mentioned so far, however, their design complements their function. The HL in their name stands for “hazardous location.” These smart glasses are meant for workers who don a hard hat and protective gear instead of a business suit. ODG mentions applications like oil production and mining to give an image of the type of environment these glasses were created for.

Although it’s not quite “fashion,” the design of the R-7HL glasses is important to their consumer. To create this model, ODG actually redesigned much of their R-7 glasses, responding to their consumer who asked for a rugged product. The R-7HL’s augmented reality allows people in dangerous jobs to still get important information while keeping their hands at their work where it matters way more than at a company meeting table.

Vue Glasses

Unlike the models intended for enterprise use, the Vue glasses seek to appeal to the general public again, using the successes and failures of their predecessors. Judging by their successful Kickstarter campaign, they may have achieved this.

The Vue glasses don’t even offer augmented reality. Instead, they work through bone conduction which allows the glasses to function as an activity tracker and to offer earbud-free music listening. The wearer uses a touchpad on the side of the frame to interact with the glasses, such as to change the song with a swipe. Just as easy as on a smartphone but without having to pull it out of your pocket (and untangle your earbuds).

So without AR and what seems like simple features, how did this product get funded? As seems to be the theme with successful and hyped smart glasses alike, they don’t look like a “nerdy” accessory. In fact, leaving out the AR and using bone conduction technology allows Vue to eliminate the computing device which typically rests on the side of the frame for more fully-featured smart glasses. The resulting product is indistinguishable from an ordinary pair of glasses. Except with those activity tracking and music listening experiences. See the appeal?

Liquid Lenses

We’ve seen the “smart” features, but how about a quick look at the “glasses” part? Like the Vue, these smart glasses also don’t have AR but that doesn’t disqualify them from using the name. The glasses listed so far have basically been head-mounted augmented reality devices (or at least offer supplementary features in the form of a pair of glasses). But researchers from the University of Utah have used the “smart” to improve the glasses.

These smart glasses have liquid lenses which allow them to change the focus, depending on the wearer’s needs. Regular prescription glasses can only correct one thing at a time. If you see well up close with your reading glasses on, your vision will be blurry when you look up from your book. These glasses would change for you instead of you changing your glasses.

The glasses connect with a smartphone app which contains the user’s prescription and changes the focus of the lens through Bluetooth. Inputting a new prescription results in the lens changing. This technology is very promising to people who switch between distance and reading glasses as well as bifocal users.

But even with these glasses that have the capability to improve people’s quality of life, design matters. As the average glasses-wearing consumer is the target market for these liquid lenses, their appearance is important. Even the leading researchers on this project acknowledge that the frames need engineering for aesthetic purposes before they will be suitable to offer to the public.

What are Liquid Lenses - Beyond Smart Glasses - Smart Vision Labs

Smart and Stylish

Glasses are no longer function over form. Engineers and designers, along with creative minds, need to collaborate to make glasses everyone can be excited for. No need to sacrifice looks. That’s what glasses are all about anyway.

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AR and VR for buying glasses - Smart Vision Labs

The Optician's Guide to AR and VR

Both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies offer promising ways to raise the bar of quality customer experience. Each of these has unique potential applications and limitations and it is up to creative companies to decide which kind of interaction to offer.

Understanding the differences in these technologies is essential to applying them effectively. AR brings a virtual item into the real world and VR inputs you into the virtual world. Each has pros and cons, yet both can be beneficial when the technology’s strength aligns with a company’s goals.

The benefit of AR is that nearly everyone has access to a smartphone – probably the most straightforward way to interact with this technology. The downside is that AR also requires some kind of proprietary app or device. This requires relying on the customer to bother seeking it out which has proven unlikely.

VR basically reverses the pros and cons of AR. A single VR headset can interact with many different applications, effectively creating a single portal. However, the customer has to first have that VR headset.

Although their benefits and limitations are virtually opposite one another, in reality, they are used for rather different purposes. Which one is better depends more on the company’s specific use rather than the technology itself.

They are alike in that both offer ways for more personalized, higher quality customer experience. Supplementing real-life experiences with virtual information blurs the line between shopping in a brick-and-mortar store or visiting their website. VR and AR also bridge the gap in shopping experience for a business that operates entirely online.

AR Technology

Augmented reality brings digital elements into the real world. It supplements reality with computer-generated graphics, sounds, data, or other elements. AR is primarily a real-life experience as the virtual item uses the technology as a portal to enter our world.

AR can be implemented in any device that has the required hardware, such as a smartphone, or in a stand-alone technology, like smart glasses. The versatility and accessibility of AR tech is perhaps its greatest benefit.

Smartphones and similar computing tech (such as tablets and video game consoles) are able to utilize AR through a camera and a positioning sensor, such as a GPS or accelerometer. This allows the device to register its position or scan a code to allow the digital data to overlay itself in the real world where the person can interact with it.

Smart glasses are another technology where AR might showcase its potential. Applications for augmented reality glasses aren’t limited at this point. There are companies creating glasses to interact with 3D models of items and others which seek to display biofeedback, such as heart rate, right from the lens. And although smart glasses do require an additional investment from the consumer, they are also far more practical for real-world use. Despite the many articles capitalizing on the sometimes silly appearance of smart glasses, even at this early stage, they are much smaller and even streamlined when compared with the options for virtual reality users.

AR and VR in optical stores - Smart Vision Labs (source: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/hololens)
Microsoft HoloLens (source: Microsoft)

VR Technology

AR brings the digital world to you but virtual reality puts you into a created digital space. Using a VR headset transports you into whatever virtual scenario you decided to enter.

VR uses a headset and software to project the illusion that you are somewhere other than your living room. Exactly how the different models operate vary but all use the same basic hardware and software interactions. You put on the hardware (the VR headset) which runs off of a technology platform such as PC, smartphone, or video game console. The image enters the headset through a HDMI cable (in the case of the PC or console platforms) or from connecting the smartphone directly to the headset. Interacting with the virtual world can be done through the device tracking your body movements, your voice, or buttons on a controller or the headset itself.

Virtual reality can create such a convincing illusion by the proximity of the screen to your eyes. When you think of VR headset, what comes to mind is likely an HMD, a head mounted display. Because the screen is attached to your head and the device tracks your position, moving about in the real world will alter the view you have in the virtual one. Look up in real life, you’ll be looking at the sky in the digital world.

AR and VR guide for optical stores - Smart Vision Labs
Video Games in Virtual Reality (source: FluidCastVR)

The Consumer Experience Buying Glasses

Previously, there was only one way to have that question answered: bring someone with you to the optical store. Now, with the technologies of virtual reality and augmented reality, consumers can get an honest answer without even trying on the glasses.

VR and AR provide a highly personalized buying experience. While retailers have long known the benefits of placing the product in the consumer’s hands, these applications take that one step farther. Trying on frames can become like a private screening with the consumer, the tech, and the frames. The walls that usually exist in any selling situation, namely, the brick and mortar store, the time factor, and the presence of employees and other people, dissolve with VR and AR.

The consumer has the power to see their purchase, not only up close and personal but within their own reality that is not contingent on anyone else’s. These applications have the potential to forever change the eyeglasses buying experience.

Not only does the consumer have the power to put their possible purchase in their own hands, they have the power to do this anywhere and anytime. Yes, they will know conclusively whether the glasses look good on them. But even more importantly, they will be able to easily view all options simply by scrolling through a menu.

In a very effective way, these applications put the consumer and the product together like never before. The entire idea behind VR and AR is to blur the physical lines of reality and invite people to enter a world that seems as real as the one they can touch.

This technology has put into practice the overriding principle of the entire buying experience. Consumers purchase what they like, what they want, and what they can afford. And where do they get the answers to these questions? In their minds.

VR and AR have not only accepted the idea that the mind is the arena for making decisions; these applications have made this real. In an amazingly profound way, consumers can get a clearer understanding of what they should buy when they step into the reality construct. The data to make a decision is still there, yet the consumer doesn’t have to go anywhere in real-time to get it.

By answering the question, “How do these glasses look on me?” VR and AR have opened up another dimension in which choices can be seen more clearly. The retail experience just got more real.

The Optician’s Advantage

Opticians are utilizing the applications of virtual reality and augmented reality in ways that expand from selling to setting up. Opening a store is a huge financial investment which encompasses a lot of overlapping details and decisions. Wouldn’t it be great to see the final result before making a commitment?

Grab a virtual reality headset and see for yourself. VR and AR are able to take future business owners for a tour of their store before the key even turns in the lock. These applications can literally set up the entire store, from everything to light fixtures to shelving, and then populate it with stock. This visual awareness allows for clearer concepts of the use of space, the flow of traffic, and the placing of strategic displays.

By having an almost-working model of the store, opticians can effectively plan and use the available space. With a flick through the menu, the store can be rearranged. Business owners have long recognized the power of atmosphere in the buying experience. The most successful stores have a balance of ease and excitement. The consumer needs to reach out and touch the product but also wants a strong motivation to make a purchase.

Personalized shopping is at the top of business owners’ lists since everyone wants to feel like their purchase is important. This isn’t just narcissism; it’s a fact of retail. Whenever there is an exchange of dollars for a product, the consumer wants reassurance that the deal was at least equal. But to make it even better, tilt the purchase in favor of the customer by offering something else like an added bonus. Another aspect of personalized shopping is a decrease in returns. Listening to the consumer and reacting to their objections in-store lowers the probability of their dissatisfaction at home.

Through the use of this technology, optical store owners can literally visualize the entire process from walking through the doors to getting the receipt from the cash register. VR and AR can let them plan the buying experience and try out options and ideas.

In some ways, this is almost reminiscent of those video games where a player can create a village or farm. All of the details can be worked out without the physical presence of time, money, or construction. Only after the owner is completely happy will the actual reality of the store be set up.

VR and AR take the guesswork out of starting an optical store by showing owners what things will really look like.

AR and VR for buying glasses - Smart Vision Labs
Source: Factor-Tech

Looking into the Future with AR and VR

Although these technologies appear to be from the future, they currently exist and are making an impact in the retail world. Both consumers and opticians are seeing the potential of these applications as well as the benefits. VR and AR glasses and headsets are waiting for creative minds to apply their unique way to interact with the virtual world to solve existing problems and start new trends.

By creating a highly personalized shopping experience everyone wins; the role of the consumer is elevated and the business models enjoy less financial risk. While some people may think AR and VR are like a game, there is some truth to that. A virtual or augmented shopping experience can be played out in a type of parallel universe, but the reality is always present. The strategies used and the principles put into action have an actual counterpoint in reality.

Consumers, innovators, and established businesses all stand to benefit from using forward-thinking technologies like AR and VR. The junction of tech and real life is blurring, whether the idea is creating new products, updating existing ones, or just making life more convenient. VR and AR allow companies and consumers to take creative risks.

AR and VR make reality even easier to deal with.

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