Apple Glass

Interesting, if old, Guardian article on the eyewear industry and how two companies, Essilor and Luxottica have come together to dominate and set the price range for eyewear.

It, more than any other article, has kind of persuaded me that this is a market to disrupt as Apple can.

But I’m only interested if Apple get in the game of correcting vision. Wondering what the chances are that Apple’s forthcoming glasses will act, eh, like glasses. Marrying an Apple frame to lenses matching your needs or camera systems that will be adjustable to your vision.

As I come around to meeting my ophthalmologist again for a new pair… my wallet will be creaking open.

1 Like

Hmmm. I’m trying to think how that would work. I can see Apple publishing the specs for the lens retainers so optical labs can produce lenses that will fit the device. You then order glasses as normal, except the optician doesn’t send the frames to the lab, rather the lenses are returned to the optician who then fits them into your (Apple Glass) frames.

Or, maybe Apple cuts a deal with labs that are “certified Apple Glass providers” (maybe even with EssilorLuxottica). You order from Apple, give them your prescription as part of the order, then the order is fulfilled by one of these labs which produces the lenses, fits them into the frames, and ships them to you.

So Apple is clearly providing the frames, but getting into the lens business? I can’t see Apple doing that, at least not directly.

I almost had a heart attack a few months ago when I heard what the price would be to replace my broken frames. But however much I might want Apple to get into eyeglass frames and lenses, it looks like they’re laser focused on getting a VR/AR headset and a ton of apps out the door ASAP. There’s a lot more profit going forward with high tech eyeware, and I’ll bet Tim Cook also has an Apple VR/AR Store that’s getting ready to debut.

I had wondered, Jeff, about precisely that kind of route, it seems to make sense. But… surely they would need some knowledge of the lenses if they are to calibrate how the ‘projectors’ of AR data onto them will work. And everyone is different, even every single eye seems to be. There might be some calibration as part of an onboarding process I suppose, a set of tests to establish clarity and focus.

That had me musing on whether the camera systems might be the route they take. There was talk elsewhere that the outer ‘face’ of the glasses would have a live video stream of the eyes behind them, ie showing what the wearer looked like. Which sounds utterly unappealing.

Yep, my last frames added 500 bucks to the price. When they broke, I asked for the cheapest replacement frame they had, they had a bunch of free ones in a drawer, I took it and they popped the lenses into it no charge. But they’re flimsy and fall off a lot and yes, don’t look all that great. And now the lenses are scratched, my eyes it seems have moved on and it’s time for a new prescription. I would love Apple to fix this situation.

You people are being unimaginative
If Apple gets into vision correction, it will be digital correction. Think about it: No more sunglasses. Automatic light-level adjustment. Forget progressive lenses. Apple Glass will correct for whatever distance you are looking at.
And, if you are reading something in a foreign language, you will see it in your native language.
This is going to be great!

You mean, like Siri will ask “Which is better? 1…or 2? 1…or 2?” :smile:

Interesting theory. I’ve thought before that a live camera could work around vision issues, but I hadn’t really thought about the implementation. Basically, instead of looking through glasses you’d look at a screen, and everything on the screen would be in focus. Here are some thoughts, though, from having spent 45+ years looking through a pair of glasses…

(1) The focal distance at which I can clearly see a screen is significantly farther from my eyes than are the lenses of my glasses. A screen would need to be 5" or so away from my eyes for me to look at the screen to see things.

(2) I tried to hold up my phone with the camera on to see how things looked. Things that were farther away were sharp, but the resolution was nowhere near sufficient to, for example, read a computer screen. My eyes don’t “zoom”, but they do direct focus at a relatively small portion of my field of vision, and within that focus I can see far more detail at a distance than I could from that portion of a screen. Without a lot of additional technology, no focus/pan control is going to give me more accurate and transparent control than what I get from the muscles around my eyes.

(That is to say, while I’m sure a good screen carefully mounted in front of each eye could provide a sharp picture, it’s not clear that there’s any really good interface to control panning/zooming within that picture that wouldn’t be much more complicated than what I can do with my eyes.)


1 Like

The problem is that you can’t just make lenses with a given prescription and stick them in a frame. The optician must measure the position of your eye within the frame, as it rests on your face. The lens is then cut so the focal point aligns with this position.

In order to make this work, the optician would need the frame (or at least an inert plastic stand-in that has the same dimensions) in order to take the measurements necessary for cutting the lenses.

You’re thinking about something akin to active optics, where a computer dynamically adjusts the reflective/refractive surface of a mirror/lens.

I’ve only heard of this for telescope mirrors and some highly experimental opthalmologic devices (that require a room of equipment). I doubt the tech is good enough to cram a system into something you could comfortably wear on your face.

That’s another interesting approach, but you’d end up wearing the equivalent of a VR headset. That sounds big and uncomfortable. Especially if you’re going to be wearing it all day (including a battery big enough so you can wear it all day). But maybe it can become practical in the future.

This assumes it will be a flat screen with nothing between it and your eyes. There would still need to be lenses between the screens and your eyes, in order to make the device a practical size, and those lenses would have to be adjusted for your prescription.

1 Like

I’m pretty sure focus is not an issue, current headsets have focussed imagery working. It is just implemented in a way I don’t understand yet :slight_smile:

I had always seen Apple’s approach as more AR. So overlays of some form. Which means looking through something, the viewfinder on my Fuji X100F has this, it’s optical with overlays, so glass not a screen. If I’m looking through something then it better improve things, else it will worsen them. Looking through anything is a diminution per se, hence the hope for corrective lenses.

Unless it’s a screen and correction is digital as suggested so there’s a camera showing what is effectively what I would be seeing if I was “looking through”. I’ve heard talk of 6k displays for each eye, I cannot see any current tech near delivering that. I’m not that keen on this option. I think it would be isolating and not a good contribution.

For a quick experiment, look at Google Cardboard. It’s a small cardboard device that holds your phone a few inches in front of your eyes, with lenses designed to focus it at that distance, such that each eye sees half of the screen.

I bought this one, and was able to use it to play VR videos using the YouTube app.

No. It would be “1 or 0”

I have read about that domination of the eyeglass market. As someone who retired with no vision insurance and whose glasses/frames are around $900 I dread my visit next month. But I need new glasses.

I dread my visit next month. But I need new glasses.

Try looking at online glasses first, then talk to your optometrist about it when you go. A friend of mine has used with good success, and there are others. The real saving is that they don’t have relationships with duo/monopoly ‘designer’ frame makers so you basically pay what you’d expect some molded plastic to cost. The lenses themselves are mostly pretty cheap these days, though some of the coatings can get a little pricey.

You’ll need your pupillary distance (PD), preferably at several distances, such as close up and distance, and maybe screen distance. Only a few states require that your optometrist provide it even though it’s an important part of the prescription, but a good optometrist will measure it for you if you push, unless (personal experience) they have a relationship with a optical store or three. It’s possible to have a friend help you do it yourself, but it’s more accurate to have the optometrist do it.

There are lots of sites with reviews of online glasses, but I don’t have experience with any of them.

1 Like

At most, this post is marginally on-topic.

That reminds me of the joke about about the customer who went to the eyeglass store and asked how much pair of glasses with a new prescription would be. The optician looked at the prospective customer and said it would be xxx dollars. (Fill in your own amount.) The customer didn’t twitch, so the optician added, “For the lenses.” Still seeing no reaction, the optician appended, “Each.”

More seriously, a few years ago Consumer Reports listed many sources for spectacles along with reports from readers on price, satisfaction, and some other stuff. As I recall, I didn’t recognize the top two or three retailers, but the highest listed one that I did recognize was Costco. Partially based on that, I joined Costco and bought new glasses. The service was minimal, the attitude was unpleasant, the quality was satisfactory, and the savings was substantial. (All those could vary with the individual store.)

For what it’s worth, I no longer subscribe to Consumer Reports and I’m no longer a member of Costco. But I plan to rejoin Costco the next time I need new eyeglasses. And I shudder to think what Apple would charge for eyeglasses.

1 Like

I’ve been buying my glasses at Costco for 7 years and I’ve been very satisfied with the attitude, the product and the service. My current frames are titanium ($70) and my bifocal lenses (which have anti-reflective and scratch coatings) add another $90. Prior to that I used Zenni for several years and was generally satisfied until my prescription got too complicated for them. I suspect Apple will partner with Essilor and Luxottica or one of their subsidiaries to provide the optics and frames, which will likely make the Apple Glasses very expensive. The Apple electronics will have to be very attractive to convince me to pay the high price that I would expect with this combination.

There has been research into technology that does vision-correction in displays.

I haven’t seen much since 2014, but the main researcher seems still be working in that basic field.

1 Like