VSP Global has announced the development of the first wearable tech prototype to seamlessly integrate health-tracking technology into a pair of optical frames.
Dubbed ‘Project Genesis’, the device has been in secret development over the past 12 months by VSP’s innovation lab, The SHOP, and was overseen by SHOP co-leads Jay Sales and Leslie Muller.
VSP launched to the UK corporate market in 2014, providing cash allowances for eye examinations, glasses and contact lenses as an employee benefit through advisers, and promoting overall eye health and well-being.
Project Genesis features sensor technology seamlessly housed within the temple of a pair of Dragon Alliance frames that tracks steps, calories burned, activity time and distance travelled. The device syncs via Bluetooth to a custom application, also designed by The SHOP, which the wearer can use to monitor their activity in real time.
“As disruption continues to change our industry, VSP Global businesses need to stay ahead of the curve and provide forward-thinking solutions that meet the changing eye care and eyewear needs of consumers,” said Rob Lynch, CEO of VSP Global.
“With an understanding of a rapidly changing marketplace and increased expectations from our clients and members, The SHOP’s purpose is to drive technological advancements that are helping to shape tomorrow’s optical industry.”
The SHOP is currently beta testing the first version of the prototype with 26 VSP Global employees at the company’s Sacramento, California headquarters. Participants from the company’s employee wellness program have been providing real-time feedback to SHOP engineers and designers, allowing for rapid improvements to the prototype’s initial hardware and software designs.
“Eyewear has been the most successful piece of ‘wearable technology’ for over 700 years,” said Muller. “With Genesis, we’re now adding additional value into the frame, but doing so in a seamless, fully integrated design that creates a richer experience for the wearer.”
Genesis is based around the concept of tracking one’s health metrics (steps, calories, heart rate, posture, gait, and much more) over a period of time. Through that data, the individual then has the potential to start identifying trends and behaviours that can create a more proactive healthcare model.
“Ultimately, this is not about just tracking steps and calories. The goal with this project is to build on these initial capabilities and, in the future, provide our members with contextual health data about themselves that they can then use to feel empowered and make better decisions in their lives,” said Sales.
Additional testing and development is already underway, with newer versions of the prototype slated to include more frame designs and additional sensors to provide more meaningful health data.
The SHOP is currently working with major academic institutions and is open to partnerships with other companies and start-ups—inside and outside the industry—to carry the project forward even further.
Jeremy Chadwick, managing director for VSP Vision Care EMEA, said: “Our offering to the UK corporate market has been really well received since launch. Project Genesis prototype proves to the market how seriously we believe in innovation in the area of eye health and vision care to create the next wave of optical technology that will improve both lifestyle and wellbeing for our members.”