Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

VSP integrates health-tracking technology into optical frames

Steve Rogerson
June 2, 2015

VSP Global has developed what it claims to be the first wearable tech prototype to integrate health-tracking technology seamlessly 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 overseen by The Shop co-leads Jay Sales and Leslie Muller.
Project Genesis uses 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 wearers 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 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 programme have been providing real-time feedback to The 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 more – over a period of time. Through those 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,” said Sales. “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.”
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.