Warby Parker’s home eye testing app, executive hire

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/warby-parker-prescription-check.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]An app for a home eye test–but is it wise? Warby Parker, the well-known online eyewear company, is testing an app that enables an eye test at home. Currently ‘Prescription Check’ is being tested on Warby Parker customers between the ages of 18 and 40 in California, Florida, New York, and Virginia. Initially, Warby Parker uses the information to confirm that the existing prescription is still correct; updated prescriptions are in the future.

Without brick-and-mortar locations, the company is obviously using this to retain current customers and gather in new ones, away from local optician stores–the market that Smart Vision Labs is courting with its optician-administered, ophthalmologist-reviewed five-minute vision exam to lure in one-stop-shopping-seeking millennials [TTA 11 Apr] for both glasses and checking contact lenses. Both companies recommend a professional eye exam at least every two to three years.

Unlike Smart Vision Labs, Warby Parker is already being opposed by the American Optometric Association (AOA) which disdains DIY eye exams. South Carolina also recently passed legislation banning smartphone-based eye exams. Prescription Check is also similar to Opternative, which charges $40-60 for an online exam including contact lenses. Healthcare Dive, TechCrunch, Mobihealthnews

Warby Parker’s seriousness on eye testing is underlined by their announcement of David Rose as their new VP of Computer Vision. Mr Rose was the founder of the Vitality GlowCaps bottle-top med reminder, purchased by what is now NantHealth in 2011. He was also one of the first digital health entrepreneurs this Editor met at her first Connected Health Symposium in 2009, where he showed the GlowCap 1.0 to all who would listen! Mobihealthnews 

‘Playing the niches’: telemedicine disrupting the optical industry with a 5 min vision exam

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/0329171903a-e1491509704867.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /] This Editor visited a ‘demo evening’ for Smart Vision Labs, which has developed an iPhone based system that takes a basic vision exam for fitting glasses or checking contact lenses that takes just five minutes. The system uses wavefront technology that takes photos of each eye for refraction measurements, including pupillary distance, and some patient questions, which are key to getting an accurate glasses prescription. The telemedicine part is that the digital data is stored and forwarded to a licensed ophthalmologist, who reviews it for basic conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Smart Vision then emails the vision provider with the results and prescription within 24 hours, also storing it for the patient in a secure site they can access with a login.

The SVOne Enterprise (pictured) is the third generation of the original device developed by founder Yaopeng Zhou, PhD and Marc Albanese, who met while graduate students in electrical engineering at Boston University, working on research in adaptive optics at Boston’s Schepens Eye Research Institute. While MBA students, they revived their optical interest based on market opportunity. Some barriers to vision health they wanted to disrupt: the general shortage of ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians; the reluctance of many people to have their eyes examined, cost, time, and convenience. They started in 2013, raised $2.5 million between 2014-15, and capped it with a Series A of $6.1 million in 2015 through Techstar Ventures and four other investors (Crunchbase).

According to their new senior VP of marketing, Josef Katz, the SVOne can break many barriers by being quick, easy and accurate. “We’re disrupting a very established business, but we’re also expanding it.” (more…)

Pilot Health Tech NYC winners announced (US)

Last Thursday, the 11 winners of the second annual Pilot Health Tech NYC program were announced at Alexandria Center, NYC. A joint initiative of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Health 2.0, it provides early-stage health tech companies based in NYC a ‘test bed’ in partnership with many of the most prestigious metro area healthcare organizations, and another platform to keep health tech growing in the city. Each project represents a distinct need in the spectrum and a common theme is integration of care into workflow. Some needs are obvious: senior care, pediatrics, rehabilitation, cardiac disease and diabetes management. Others are less so: vision, medication adherence, data analytics, blood donation and social support.

The winners are supported by $1 million in funding to operate and report results from the individual pilots which will take place starting in late summer through end of year. An interesting fact from the announcement release is that the Pilot Health Tech inaugural class companies [TTA 1 July 2013] have raised over $150 million in private investment since their win: AdhereTech, eCaring, Rip Road, Vital Care Services, BioDigital, Flatiron Health, Sense Health, Bio-Signal Group, Opticology and StarlingHealth (acquired by Hill-Rom).

The winners (some of which we’ve been following like GeriJoy, NonnaTech and eCaring) and their partners are:

  • Smart Vision Labs / SUNY College of Optometry
  • GeriJoy / Pace University
  • QoL Devices, Inc. / Montefiore Medical Center
  • Urgent Software, LLC / Mount Sinai Health System
  • Nonnatech / ElderServe
  • Fit4D/ HealthFirst
  • AllazoHealth / Accountable Care Coalition of Greater New York
  • Canopy Apps / Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY)
  • Healthify / VillageCare
  • Tactonic Technologies / NYU Langone, Rusk Rehab Center
  • Hindsait, Inc. / NY Blood Center

More information in their release. Many thanks to NYCEDC and Eric Vieira of ELabNYC (another NYCEDC initiative) and CUNY.

Related reading: ELabNYC Pitch Day in March