By Andrew Karp
Rochester Optical Manufacturing Co. is launching proprietary digital lens designs specifically optimized for Google Glass wearers who require prescription lenses, making it the first optical company to market an Rx lens for the highly publicized smart specs.
Rochester Optical said its scientists have created a new design called RO GOLD that eliminates unwanted aberrations perceived by the wearer in the directions of sight associated with Google Glass' Heads Up Display (HUD), giving the wearer a clear vision of the HUD, as well as the normal clear vision their lenses provide of the world around them.
As Tim Moore, an expert in wearable technology and a member of the Rochester Optical Glass team, explained to Eye2, "Google Glass certainly represents a revolutionary step forward in wearable technology and connected eyewear. However, for many that need vision assistance, they've proven to have limited use. If you can't see them, you can't enjoy them, right?
"I see GOLD prescription lenses helping pave the way for HUD and other digital vision innovations to become less of a novelty and more a mainstream accessory for everyone," Moore continued. "The digital vision team at Rochester Optical is excited as we work on what's next and meeting the evolving needs of U.S. customers."
In conjunction with RO GOLD lenses, Rochester Optical has also a patented new frame called the Glass Prescription Lens Carrier (GPLC). It resembles regular eyeglasses where prescription lenses are mounted to a structural chassis for rigidity. The full frame design allows a wide variety of prescription powers, lens designs, and lens materials to be fabricated and mounted securely to Google Glass, the company said.
"Rochester Optical is proud to be at the forefront of the wearable technology that is going to significantly shape our lives in the near future," said company president Patrick Ho. "Google is a technology company whereas Rochester Optical, being an optical frame manufacturer and full service optical lab with a commitment in R&D, has all the core strengths to assimilate fashion, function and visual acuity with Glass technologies for the benefit of all Glass wearers."
During a recent visit to the Jobson Optical Group's offices in New York City, Ho explained that RO Gold was designed to address the deficiencies of lens designs currently available in the market place. Current lens designs, conventional or digital, are primarily used for distance vision and for near vision in cases of multi-focal and progressive lenses, he noted. Google Glass has the Heads-Up Display (HUD) mounted on the upper right hand corner and at a distance much closer to the pupil. The location of the HUD, as a result, forces the wearer to gaze in an upward direction. Normal prescription lenses are not designed to optimize the visual acuity in those upper gaze directions, leading to a blurring of the display, and visual fatigue as the eye itself tries to compensate for the movement to a less clear viewing area.
"Our scientists have created a new design where special care is taken to remove unwanted aberrations perceived by the wearer in the directions of sight associated with the HUD, giving the wearer a clear vision of the HUD, as well as the normal clear vision their lenses provide of the world around them. The elimination of aberrations and the enhancement of visual acuity reduce eye strain and fatigue caused by extended use of Google Glass," said Ho. "Our new RO GOLD Lenses are designed and specially customized for each wearer to correct for this eye movement, compensating for both the wearer's individual prescription, and for any vertical imbalance that may be caused by the necessary movement of the eye to see the screen. This will insure that the wearer will be able to see the viewing screen clearly, as well as have optimized vision when looking straight ahead and/or for near vision."
Ho said that the Rochester R&D team also considered the effect of prism when designing RO GOLD. "Because the HUD is located above the central direction of sight of the lens, there will be a vertical prismatic effect induced when looking at the HUD," said Ho. "This prismatic effect may have to be compensated for, depending on the prescription, in order to prevent image cropping of the display, and will allow wearers have a complete view of the projected screen.
Initially, RO GOLD will be available in digitally surfaced single vision, digitally surfaced straight-top 28 bifocal, and digitally surfaced full backside progressives. These designs come in a standard plastic, Trivex, and high index materials, along with options such as anti-reflective coating, Transitions photochromic lenses and various tints and scratch resistant coatings.
RO GOLD will be available for ordering beginning in late January and will begin shipping in early February. Rochester Optical has set initial pricing on RO GOLD digital single vision lenses starting at $99.00 with upgrades available for an additional cost. The Glass Prescription Lens Carriers are priced at $129 each.
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