Project Update: September-October 2017
(6 min read)
This is a longer update, so lets just hop into it.
Shipments Starting Soon
We will reach out to the first 30 or so pre-order customers in October to confirm their prescriptions and addresses. As I have warned several times in the past, shipments will start out slow at first and begin to accelerate over a period of months. Please remember that outside of LAFORGE Optical, no other company on earth has figured out produce prescription eyewear with embedded optics, that weighs under 30 grams, with electronics inside the frames. Please give us time to sort out initial issues with the first cohort of 30 or so pre-orders.
As previously mentioned, those receiving alpha eyewear should expect some "issues" (as finding issues is the point of this limited alpha release). LAFORGE will fix these problems by replacing the eyewear and/or offering free software updates. The earliest releases will used for us to understand how our Phantom Display is perceived given variances in facial structure, pupil distance, wearer style (how far up or down the nose one wear’s their eyewear), and visual acuity.
Our intended outcomes from the alpha trials are to determine a relationship between those factors to ensure an acceptable "out of the box" experience for future customers. The activities that our alpha wearers will be executing will be key to the success of the product and we will also make this data available to other augmented reality companies. For those of you who have worn AR,VR, MR (are we getting too granular with the “R”s?) headsets, you may know that many of them can make you feel not so well or cause a lot of eye strain we are wanting to avoid all of that. I believe that categorizing the type of optics needed for each wearer, may ensure a long lasting and pleasant experience and will be a boon for the industry as a whole.
More on the eye and why studying it is important
Several years ago, the eyewear industry created devices that were able to look at your eye and predict your visual acuity and recommend a prescription. However, most people know that your Optometrist or Ophthalmogist still uses a phoropter (the “better one or better two” machine). This is done because in our developmental years our brains are programming themselves to optimize our field of vision based what our eyes can see. To put it another way our brains are learning to overcome our poor hardware (our eyes). As a result, it means that two individuals who have the same physical defects in their eyes will more than likely have two different prescriptions. We have been taking our time and consulting with Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, and Opticians to develop the best solution for mass producing the near-to-eye optics found in our eyewear.
These conversations have lead to another design improvement and innovation in the field of near-to-eye optics that our preorder customers will be experiencing. We will be coupling the display to the lenses in a unique way that allows accommodate for a wider range of facial geometries and prescriptions to make experience more consistent from person to person.
Pre-order Lock-in Offer
We understand that some of you have been waiting months to get your hands on our digital eyewear. As a result, some people have been delaying their purchase of their next pair of eyewear until we ship. We have been quietly accommodating some of you by shipping conventional prescription eyewear, as things have taken a bit longer than we originally stated. So we’re going to offer our pre-order holders something they need for free.
Starting in October, we will start offering pre-order customers the option to lock-in their pre-order. In exchange for this, you will receive a free pair of prescription eyewear or sunglasses featuring our lens technology. You can use this eyewear in future focus groups for experiment 2, as well as to get a good idea of how much work has gone into making these lenses. Please note that by locking in your pre-order that you will not be able to cancel or get a refund but you may still change your frame style and prescription.
This has largely been complete for a couple weeks and will be released very soon pending my review. Due to increased interest from potential investors, interviewing candidates for employment, and discussions with potential future partners, and my need for sleep, I was not able to approve it or put some finishing touches on it. My goal is to release the Mock API and SDK by the end of the first week of October. For more details on the API/SDK. Please check out this blog post.
In August, I wrote a blog post detailing the changes to socialFLO, the app wearers will use to configure their eyewear. I have now released all versions of the prototype for everyone to check out on their phone. This allows everyone to see how the prototype app has evolved over the past few months. For more info on how to use the prototype, check out this blog post.
Focus Groups Resuming
We will also resume focus groups in October. Please note that focus groups are limited to pre-order customers only, so they are the only ones who will be receiving emails about them. The focus groups will experimenting with different methods to configure panes and arrange mods within socialFLO. There will also be an experiment with connecting the app to other apps such as SnapChat, Facebook, and Instagram for a future camera feature. We will also make available more time slots for people in other countries (specifically Asia-Pacific).
Lens production for product 2B will begin soon. Many folks from the pre-order lock-in will be receiving trial lenses for this product if they choose the sunglass option. We should have lens production for Product 2B up to 10 lenses/week before November, working our way to 100 lenses/week by year end, and 1,000 lenses/week by Spring. We intend to have one larger trial at volumes of 5K to 10K units/week to see how our network of partners and supplier would be able to respond to an uptick in demand.
“Product2B” is the code name for a more camera centric product that we started developing earlier this year. We have narrowed down the final product name to two options and will register the trademark before launch. Product2B will not be available for pre-order and will just be released once its ready. Rather than shatter people’s expectations with delays, we will not give any specific details about this product (including frame styles, pricing, colors) until the product is ready to ship. We will say that is our intention to have this product available at 3,500 eyewear retailers within the next 18 months.
Product2B is based on Shima but is not limited in its design by variations in peoples facial geometry or visual acuity. We will use Product2B as a way for us to practice scaling up for Shima while we are conducting the previously mentioned trials during the alpha phase of Shima. Our goal is to avoid concurrent engineering on the final digital eyewear products and use an iterative process of design before locking in the final design.
This concludes the September-October 2017 update.
Shipments start soon.
Alpha pre-order holders will participate in a survey around visual acuity to see the effects our system may have on a wearer's eyes.
Due to the long wait, we will start offering pre-order holders free prescription eyewear or sunglasses if you lock-in your pre-order.
API/SDK has been finished and is pending my approval for release.
Demo the various prototype version of socialFLO
"Product2B" will be available for order once it is unveiled.
CEO & Head of Design