Vision for the future

In January, Google announced it was pulling its smart eyewear product, Glass, from the commercial market and graduating the device from Google X, the company's research division. But early reports suggesting the move marked the death of Glass turned out to be premature, as the company is still making the product available to certain partners and industries for trial runs and further development.

That was good news for local startup Octovis, which has built a company on the concept of smart eyewear. Octovis' platform, refined through Jumpstart Foundry's 2014 accelerator, pushes electronic health records and other clinical information directly to physicians through wearables like Google Glass and Vuzix SmartGlasses.

According to Octovis CEO Ryan Macy, Google dialing back on Glass isn't a bad thing and could, in fact, allow the tech giant time to improve the device while consumers warm up to the idea of smart glasses.

"I'm very happy that Glass is no longer available, because the technology is just not ready," Macy says. "It requires more detail in expanding the functionality of the software. The entire software suite would change in a matter of weeks, and we'd have to catch up."

Macy thinks consumers are about five years away from embracing smart eyewear, but clinician use could come sooner as Microsoft pursues its HoloLens product and Vuzix commercializes its line of interactive eyewear for gaming, apps and movies.

"In 18 months, clinician use is really going to be exploding," Macy says. "Google, Vuzix and Microsoft are pushing out a lot of augmented reality technology, and that's a signal that the market is exploring in earnest, and you're going to see rapid development.

The Octovis platform is based on providing physicians with relevant medical information at the point of care. But Macy says other kinds of wearables -- such as Apple's new Watch product or fitness devices like the Fitbit or Jawbone -- have clinical potential as well.

"Wearables can help with chronic illnesses by collecting a lot of data, and you can use them in really innovative ways," he says. "We're probably a couple years out before you go to your doctors and they're downloading your information from a wearable device, though. Adoption in health care is never quick."

The company is also in the process of building a comprehensive telemedicine suite, through which the smart eyewear devices help clinicians and remote patients feel more connected in their interactions.

"We want to put our technology not just in eyewear," he says, "but also in other forms. Eyewear on top of other devices gives us a comprehensive suite of telemedicine, and I think telemedicine needs a variety of technology based on the use case."

Octovis' technology has been well received, Macy says, and adoption has been rapid -- even in the traditionally slow-moving industry.

"I can't even put it into words," he says. "They get so many things hocked at them. So when I present our technology and people are so interested, it's just amazing."

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