Google has confirmed it will offer Google Glass in special frames for people who wear prescription lenses. It’s even found one healthcare insurer who will subsidize the costs in the same way as with traditional spectacles.
It still won’t be possible yet to simply clip the gadgetry to the arms of an ordinary pair of spectacles. Google says it’s had to specially design the new Titanium Collection to be “feather-light” to make up for the added weight of the gadgetry.
There’ll be four different frames in the range, covering thick and thin rims and round or oval lenses. Fashion lovers with big budgets can get more than one pair as the device itself can be transferred between compatible frames with only one screw to be removed and replaced.
The four frames will each cost $225 on top of the fee for Google Glass itself. Customers will have to buy them direct from Google and they’ll ship with plain glass lenses; you’ll then get your prescription lenses fitted by an optometrist.
The fitting will be slightly different to ordinary spectacles as they have to be placed such that the mini projection screen is in the corner of your eyeline rather than directly in your vision. Google says it has trained 200 optometrists in fitting the glasses so far, but aims to raise that to 6,000 by the end of this year when Glass goes on general sale.
Not all prescriptions will work: at the moment Google says it expects it will be available for sphere prescriptions of up to +4 or -4, while bi-focal and tri-focal lenses may be a case-by-case situation. The problem isn’t the frames themselves, but rather that some lenses may make it difficult to site and focus the display satisfactorily.
Optical health insurer specialist VSP has agreed a deal with Google, meaning customers can get a subsidy. The plan is that customers will get a $120 discount on the frames, bringing the cost down to $95 plus the cost of the lenses. They won’t get any discount on the computer itself, the public retail price of which has yet to be confirmed but is likely to be in the region of $1,000.