This article originally appeared in the January 2015 edition of INVISION.
Nevada OD was an early adopter of Google Glass —
and now he’s among the first trained to fit it, too
Dr. Lawrence Wang is a tech-savvy person — and a savvy businessman, too. That’s why Centennial Hills Family Eyecare in Las Vegas, NV, is one of a few practices in the Southwest that offers prescription-lens fitting for Google Glass, a service that’s building Wang’s practice and giving it a competitive advantage. — JESSE BURKHART
THE IDEA: Google Glass is an Internet-connected headset that allows users to take pictures, shoot video, use apps and broadcast what they’re seeing to the world. While the unit’s cost (it remained $1,500 as of mid-December) has limited its adoption, the promise that it — and smart eyewear in general — holds for both consumers and eyecare practitioners is apparent.
“It’s a game-changer because suddenly your glasses are not just your glasses, but they’re a piece of technology that you can incorporate into your life,” says Wang, who joined the practice seven years ago and is now the sole owner.
Even though Glass remains something of a niche product that has garnered mixed reviews, Wang says it functions as an “indirect marketing piece.” Merely by offering prescriptions-lens fitting for smart eyewear, “our patients realize that we’re trying to be at the forefront of eyeglass technology. That in itself is a practice-builder for us.”
THE EXECUTION: Wang was trained to fit Glass through a program offered by VSP Global, which is partnered with Google. But before he became a fitter, he had joined Google’s Explorer program, which gave him access to the product before it was made available to the public. Now with more than a year of experience fitting Glass, he sometimes finds his engagement with patients extending to the technology’s application.
“I think the marketplace and the users right now are trying to create practical, useful applications for (Glass),” Wang says. The number of apps are limited, he adds, “but new ones are coming out every day.”
More recently, staff members at the practice have begun wearing Glass in front of patients as a marketing strategy. Doing so often piques the curiosity of those who aren’t familiar with the technology, Wang says, adding that it’s one of the most effective things the practice has done to create conversation and drive adoption.
models a Google Glass headset.
“That can separate you from big-box retailers, just the fact that your practice is interested in the latest eyewear and eyecare technologies,” he says. “When a patient comes into our practice, they see us as more than just a run-of-the-mill optometrist.” The practice’s marketing efforts are also paying dividends. Beyond having front-office personnel wear Glass during business hours, Wang says that his staff is genuinely interested in the technology, which carries over to patients.
“When you are invested in the latest technologies — especially wearable technologies — I think that excites our patients,” he says.
DO IT YOURSELF:
Study up on Google Glass. Even if you decide that it’s not for you, at least you’ve prepared yourself to have an intelligent conversation with patients who are curious about smart eyewear.
Get Glass for demo purposes. Wang says that when he wears Glass away from the office, people often ask about it. “People want to wear it, so I’ll take it off and let them wear it.”
Doctors who are interested in becoming certified to fit Glass can get more information at google.com/glass/ecp/
Contact the media. If you’re the first eye doctor in your market to fit smart eyewear, that’s newsworthy — and local reporters are often early tech adopters themselves.
Know the technology. Patients are not only looking to be fitted with the proper prescription, Wang says, but often they’re also seeking help with applying Glass in their daily lives.
Ed: Google announced in mid-January it was ending its Glass Explorer program and plans a new version later this year.