I’m not usually big on predictions. It’s certainly not the same as a forecast taking a series of unresolved scenarios and finishing with a flourish that enriches and prepares an audience for upcoming trends. That’s the sort of “thing” I do near daily with trends in eyewear, directions in retailing and solutions in dispensing. No, not that stuff. I’m talking BIG predictions about ground-shaking events and instances that will forever change the world as we know it.  So, cautiously, I’m predicting that the challenge all in the optical arena will be facing with the coming of successfully interactive SmartEye devices will be confounding and extreme in various degrees of positive and negative repercussions for every opti-pro.

As with handheld mobile devices, the onslaught of these info-net optical devices will be staggering. The current leading edge is definitely held by Google and having personally experienced a pair, I can attest they are clever, nerdy and highly compromised, though certainly on a forward track toward being more user-friendly, stylish and eventually, as indispensable personally and socially as the current mobile device you fiddle with daily AND nightly.

It is slightly shocking that Google is basically beta-testing its glasses in such a primitive form at the moment. The crude specs I experienced were like comparing Apple’s Newton to the current iPhone or an 8-track tape to a digital iTunes download: data, badly reflected on the inner surface of a lens in an awkward position. Camera capabilities activated by nauseating head movements and crudely inaccurate finger commands. All with a frame chassis as stylish as adjustable pants from a rented tux. Trust me though, all of that will change. And as the interface becomes passionately and extremely friendly, the glasses will assimilate into unexpected versions of stylish. It is bound to happen. And if you are in any part of the chain of delivery that encompasses dispensing eyewear, you are going to be affected by this info-sensory-delivery phenomenon.

When? Soon. What should you do about it? Damned if I know but if you want to be a part of the future of optical you need to search for some personal solutions that are decidedly NOT reflected on the inner surface of an eyeglass lens.

What I DO know is that right now, 20/20 is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and in 40 more years, I’ll be wishing it well on its 80th year in this incredibly expanding opti-sphere, blowing out over 100 candles on my own birthday cake while many of you will be recalling a time when you dispensed eyewear that just brought the world into better focus instead of expansively delivering a universe of information and communication.

—James J. Spina