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New tech patents could signal disruption for retail eyewear

US tech giant Apple has filed a patent for a new head mounted device (HMD) that it claims can correct vision electronically when the device is worn.

If the device comes to market, a Forbes report notes, the wearer won’t need to see an optometrist for their prescription because it will be detected electronically.

Apple filed the patent in the fourth quarter of 2019 and the United States Patent and Trademark Office published it in June 2020.

The patent covers “a powerful new vision correction optical system that’s able to incorporate a user’s glasses prescription into the system”, according to a patent application report.

The system will then alter the optics to address vision issues such astigmatism, farsightedness, and nearsightedness so that those who wear glasses won’t have to wear them when using Apple’s HMD.

Apple notes that the user input includes a spectacles prescription and the control circuitry is configured to adjust a position of the display with the positioner based on the prescription.

Although the device may not come to market, if the technology is developed, Forbes claims the entire process of getting prescription spectacles in stores will be disrupted.

However, Apple isn’t the only company developing this type of technology. According to the report, a company called Visibly is working with the US Food and Drug Administration for clearance on a process using a computer and a mobile device together to renew a patient’s prescription.

Another company called EyeQue has developed a device to use at home to detect an individual’s prescription and a smartphone app called TESA is in development that will facilitate remote/telemedicine eye examinations.

The US eyecare profession is concerned that reducing the need for eyecare visits for prescriptions will prevent the discovery of numerous eye diseases that are currently detected by early tests during prescription eye examinations.

Apple also filed a patent application in the second quarter of 2019, which was published by the US Patent Office in January 2020.

That patent relates to a future mixed reality headset that will allow those with prescription glasses to put their unique lenses into a headset to eliminate the need to wear exterior glasses in the headset making it bulkier and less comfortable.