Meet Level™, the next generation of sensor-enabled eyewear produced by our innovation lab, The Shop.
Formerly known as Project Genesis, the prototype is the first wearable from a healthcare company to seamlessly integrate health-tracking technology in the temple of an optical frame.
One year after announcing a partnership with the University of Southern California’s Center for Body Computing, The Shop is ready to debut Level as part of a large pilot study with the university.
Check out the video:
COOL FRAMES—WHO DESIGNED THEM?
The frames come in three new unisex styles, designed by The Shop, and manufactured by our eyewear company, Marchon, in Italy.
“The new Level frames forced us to reimagine the entire design and manufacturing process for eyewear,” said Leslie Muller, co-lead of The Shop. “Designers collaborated with firmware
and biomedical engineers, who collaborated with traditional eyewear craftspeople to produce something that is both technologically advanced but still seamless and beautiful. As with any wearable, Level is as much about fashion and individual expression as it is about the brilliant technology inside.”
With a nod to innovation, each frame is named after a major innovator throughout history, including Marvin Minsky, Nikola Tesla and Hedy Lamarr.
WHAT ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY?
Since the project is still in prototype mode, we wanted to keep things simple for now. The sensors include a magnetometer, accelerometer and a gyroscope to track steps, calories burned and activity time. The app, to which the frames sync wirelessly via Bluetooth, also has the ability to locate your frames should you misplace them.
THERE’S AN APP?
Heck yeah there is. The all-new app was built by The Shop as well, featuring a fully redesigned interface and functionality. Taking it a step further (no pun intended), Level will also sync with VSP Global’s Eyes of Hope program. As users reach daily step goals, they accrue points. Once a certain number of points are achieved, that user will trigger the donation of a comprehensive eye exam and pair of glasses to someone in need.
“As a community-based not-for-profit, we’re curious not only about the technology and how it can benefit the individual utilizing it, but also about the motivations that drive certain behavior,” said Jay Sales, co-lead of The Shop. “Connecting Level to our Eyes of Hope initiative was a perfect way to explore how technology within a platform as common as eyewear could increase health and wellness as well as empathy and opportunity for someone in need.”
SO WHAT DOES USC HAVE TO DO WITH ALL OF THIS?
We learned a lot from our employee beta test last year and are now ready to go even bigger. We’re partnering with the University of Southern California’s Center for Body Computing for a large-scale pilot test and academic study with a group of USC employees.
While we can’t go into specific detail on the study itself, we can share that it will be administered through the Center for Body Computing in partnership with the USC Roski Eye Institute. In general, The Shop will study user interaction with the Level platform and receive tons of feedback and input from a diverse set of users. That feedback will inform future iterations of the project.
WHAT’S THE ULTIMATE GOAL HERE?
We want to explore the concept of Contextual Health, which for VSP is the idea of enriching traditional medical records with context from daily living. Imagine a connected device—like a fitness tracker—providing ongoing and updated information about you. Activity times. Calories burned. Heart rate. The list goes on. Over time, that input becomes a rich data set that, when layered into a patient’s traditional medical record, could paint a more holistic understanding of their health.
We already know that regular visits to your eye doctor are a key to overall health and wellness.
“We’ve found that a visit to the eye doctor is often a person’s entry point into the healthcare system,” said VSP Global Board Member Ryan Wineinger, OD. “In addition to identifying conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, comprehensive eye exams can also detect signs of other serious health conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and even multiple sclerosis. To explore how technology inside a frame can further strengthen the link between a patient and their eye doctor is a natural extension to the role the eyes play in overall health and wellness today.”
Recent survey data also points to huge upticks in public acceptance and interest in wearable tech:
- 57% of people are excited about wearable tech in everyday life (PwC)
- 49% of people already own a wearable (PwC)
- 78% of patients want their doctor to have access to data from their wearable in order to provide more personalized care (Salesforce)
HOW DO I GET A PAIR?
We’re still in testing mode (hence the pilot study with USC), so Level isn’t quite ready for a mass release just yet. We want to do this right. And that involves understanding how a platform like Level can bring real value to peoples’ lives—not just another wearable novelty.
Let us know in the comments if a platform like Level would interest you!