ATLANTA - As the public anticipates the commercial availability of Google Glass, a speaker here at SECO said the advent of the technology is inevitable.
"It's a small market now, but by 2025 it will be huge," William Underwood, PhD, ABOM, said. "It will be big in 2019."
Underwood described three categories of smart glasses: heads-up display (HUD), augmented reality and virtual reality.
HUD smart glasses feature a wearable computer and a heads-up display, Underwood said, and the Vuzix M100 and Google Glass are current examples.
Google Glass, the most publicized pair of smart glasses, features the display, camera, audio, connectivity and storage, Underwood said.
"You can control it with the touchpad or with voice commands," he explained. "One of the coolest things is Google Hangout. In Facetime, you see the person's face, but with Hangout, what you see is what I'm seeing through the camera. A number of different professions have used this to communicate. You can have a group of students watching a professional - whether it's surgery or an eye exam."
Underwood noted that Google Glass has various prescription frame and lens options through Luxottica, Rochester Optical and VSP/Marchon.
Augmented reality smart glasses provide a live, direct or indirect view of the world, Underwood said, with the display embedded within the lens. Current models include the Atheer One and Shima from Laforge Optical.
"If you think about all the things you do with your cell phone - how do you make that a better experience? Atheer has been a leader in that," Underwood said. "The Atheer One connects to your smartphone and displays the company's 3D platform, through which the wearers will see an augmented vision of the world. By using gestures and even eye movements, the Atheer One will provide control over different connected devices, incoming data and more."
Underwood explained that consumers will want a complete vision solution, as they would be investing a lot of money in smart glasses technology.
"Shima is prescription eye wear that displays notifications from your smart phone," he said. "This includes real-time updates from your social networks and navigational applications, allowing you to interact with your smartphone. Shima also features a camera, microphone and speaker to complement the hardware in your phone."
The outside world is excluded in virtual reality smart glasses, Underwood said, with the glasses creating an immersive multimedia, computer-simulated environment. The Zeiss Cinemizer is one such product.
"The Cinemizer is not mainstream," he said. "It's for people who love gaming or 3D movies and want to be totally immersed in that environment."
Additionally, the Epson Moverio BT-200 provides both augmented and virtual reality.
Underwood cautioned that each set of smart glasses will have its own set of visual issues and he recommended that eye care providers create a catalog of smart glass designs tailored to specific devices to optimize critical viewing areas.
He also urged optometrists to not only increase their knowledge of the products for their patients but also to utilize the products for their own benefit.
"Embrace it!" he said. "It's a great opportunity to create a niche."
Underwood explained that optometrists and ophthalmologists will be able to use the technology in a variety of ways.
"You can consult with a colleague via Hangout, you can capture an image and you can capture snippets for training purposes," he said.
Underwood said that the collaborative and educational aspects of the technology could be extremely useful, and that he has used it himself to take an educational video of removing a soft contact lens. - by Chelsea Frajerman
Disclosure: Underwood is a member of the Essilor Speaker's Bureau.