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The Surprising Ways Your Next Pair of Glasses Could Alter Your Reality

By Essilor News

Augmented Reality (AR) is poised to take consumers by storm in the next few years with technology giants such as Apple, Facebook, Google, and Samsung making major investments in the developing field. From drone racing, to video games, to health care, new augmented reality applications are popping up almost daily, and could become a $108 billion market by 2021, according to research firm Digi-Capital.

With a recent revelation hitting the media, Apple tops the list of tech pushing past Virtual Reality (VR) and to begin focusing on augmented reality. MacRumors discovered evidence that Apple has “secretly” acquired SensoMotoric Instruments—a custom eye-tracking technology company that has already used its eye-tracking system for the eyecare industry and beyond. For now, there’s only speculation on what Apple will do with the technology, but there are opportunities across many, if not all, industries.

From apps that use sensors for depth estimation and virtual object placement, to glasses that could cut down on distracted driving using real time warnings— augmented reality is in the foreseeable future for the eye and health care industries. There’s even talk of using the technology for eye exams, possibly enabling eyecare professionals to use real-world simulations to assess vision needs with more accuracy.

Unlike virtual reality, which completely immerses the wearer in a computer-generated world, augmented reality superimposes computer-generated imagery over a person’s view of their surroundings with the goal of providing an enhanced perspective on the real world. But what does a world full of augmented reality smart glasses look like? At Essilor, we anticipate there are four issues to consider when it comes to our future with augmented reality.

1) Function

First, there’s the technology aspect. How do you charge your augmented reality glasses? Where will the battery go? What happens when the battery dies? From battery life, to price, to display tech, further advancements are still needed before this kind of wearable becomes available or wearable for consumers en masse.

2) Style and Choice

Remember Google Glass? You know – the first pair of augmented reality specs that failed because consumers considered the design unappealing to their personal style? If we learned anything from Google, it’s that future wearables will likely look like ordinary glasses to ensure the design is pleasing to the eye (see what we did there?). Additionally, in today’s virtual world, consumers will want to have a choice – a choice in frame color, shape, designer, and style may be pivotal to the success of the next augmented reality eyewear.

3) Visual Experience

Assuming consumers like the look of augmented reality glasses, there’s still no telling if they’ll enjoy the view through them. The placement of the augmented reality image will impact consumers’ visual experience because, depending upon where the images appear in your visual field, your line of sight may be blocked. Additionally, at this moment, we don’t know whether those in need of vision correction would be able to use their corrective lenses with augmented reality. More importantly, will consumers be able to choose a lens that meets their lifestyle needs and still allows them to use augmented reality technology? How does augmented reality impact those who need progressive lenses?

4) Long-Term Digital Exposure

These aren’t just ordinary glasses—so what does this level of digital exposure mean for consumers and their eyes from a health and social perspective? With technology and imagery in your face and so close to your eyes, the brain will have to take in information in a different way, and the eyes might experience increased digital eye strain as well. This could mean augmented reality glasses would take some getting used to, and easing into, for wearers.

With our commitment to improving lives by improving sight, Essilor continues to be a part of the augmented reality conversation, monitoring innovations and developments in eyewear technology. Our goal is to ensure we’re using the latest technologies to provide better vision for people around the world. In the meantime, we’ll continue to study the intersection of corrective eyewear and augmented reality, keeping a close eye on its implications for patients and practitioners alike. Stay tuned for more insights, as shared by our experts