Walking the aisles of the Las Vegas Convention Center at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show was like walking into a jungle. An electronic jungle, that is. The massive show featured the equivalent of 37 football fields of the latest video, audio, computer, photographic, automotive and smart phone technology—and eyewear technology, too.
The jungle atmosphere was apparent from the moment I entered the LVCC’s South Hall and saw Intel’s giant “tree” display (pictured here) festooned with nearly 200 winking, blinking laptops. Beyond it lay a dense, seemingly endless landscape filled with screens of all sizes, some as big as a house, flashing images and words in a nonstop explosion of light and color. The aisles were packed with showgoers trying out the latest systems and gadgets. Some snapped photos on their smart phones. Others just eyed the exhibits in wonder, paralyzed with sensory overload. But I was on the hunt for eyewear technology, and nothing would distract me.
What I found was fascinating. 3-D glasses, both active and passive. Computer glasses. Head-mounted electronic displays for ski goggle makers. Wearable computers with augmented reality features, a la Google glasses. Eyeglasses for treating amblyopia that feature programmable, electronic shutters for each eye. Relaxation eyewear that immerses the wearer in soft, colored lights and plays soothing music. Eyewear for jet lag sufferers. 3-D printed glasses.
It was apparent from seeing this impressive and varied array of products that eyewear is increasingly a vehicle for new technology. The trend is being driven by consumer electronics companies AND eyewear companies, and it’s spreading fast.
I recommend eyecare professionals learn about these types of new eyewear technologies. Then they can advise patients about how these technologies may impact their vision. Tech-savvy ECPs may even want to dispense some of these products.
This is a practice-building opportunity, but only if ECPs grab onto it. If they don’t, consumers will turn to the sales staff at the nearest big box electronics retailer for advice about eyewear technology, and that would be a shame.