Google Glass Strikes Deal With Vision Care Provider

Lila Gray

SAN FRANCISCO — Google has struck a deal with VSP, the biggest optical health insurance provider in the nation, to offer subsidized frames and lenses for Google Glass, the New York Times reported yesterday.

Helmed by Isabelle Olsson, Google’s desgn team concocted four styles of frames made from lightweight titanium — to offset the weight of the device — along with two new styles of clip-on sunglasses.

“What I’ve noticed in public is I get less interaction with people [when wearing Glass with frames,]” Steve Lee, product management director for Google Glass, told the NY Times. “It’s something society’s more accustomed to.”

Lee is referencing the gawking, and sometimes even hostility, roused by Glass wearers. Since the Glass debuted to a limited group, there has been backlash from those who believe the headmounted computer threatens privacy. Some establishments have even outright banned it.

According to some analysts, the key goal for wearable tech is to become embedded in the health care system. If successful, that would broaden its consumer base, lower costs and, most importantly, normalize scifi-esque devices for the average person, who may shy away from the their alien look and feel.

VSP and Google are now hacking out a training program to teach optometrists how to mount the Glass on frames and fit it on people’s faces.

“We know our 64 million members are seeing and hearing about Google Glass and how it will affect their lives and vision, so we are really focusing on the eye health management perspective,” said Jim McGrann, president of VSP Vision Care.

Google intends to release Glass to the public sometime this year. While the first wave of handpicked users paid $1,500, the NY Times reports that the consumer version will be a few hundred dollars cheaper.

The Glass-compatible titanium frames cost $225 each, but VSP will reimburse members as per their prescription plans. VSP will not, however, subsidize Glass itself.   

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