In September 2023, Sunglass Hut, a division of EssilorLuxottica, made headlines with its innovative partnership with the metaverse avatar platform Ready Player Me. To redeem virtual Ray-Ban and Oakley popular models for their metaverse avatars, customers only need to scan a QR code on the SmartShopper digital screen in select retail locations. This project links virtual merchandise to physical sites, engaging customers in a unique way that drives foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores.
This collaboration marked a significant stride in eyewear retailers' adoption of cutting-edge technology. However, the launch of Sunglass Hut's AR application by Sunglass Hut is only one out of the many developments showcasing the industry's commitment to redefining the eyewear shopping experience. Let's take a closer look below.
Augmented Reality Applications
With augmented reality, eyewear retailers can streamline the shopping process and revolutionize how consumers explore eyewear. These applications have manifested primarily via virtual try-ons and smart mirrors. This AR technology allows customers to virtually try on glasses, providing a realistic preview of how different eyewear frames look on their faces. This was adopted by leading online retailer EyeBuyDirect in 2021, which included an additional feature for customers with high prescriptions. Here, one has to simply record a video of oneself without glasses before choosing among their desired frames, whether it's the best-selling St. Michel or the new arrival, VO5421 of Vogue eyewear.
Meanwhile, individual opticians typically embrace smart mirror technology. Smart mirrors utilize AR technology to instantly measure pupillary distance and other eye measurements. Opticians can use the app to assist clients in selecting progressive lens designs tailored to their unique needs. These personalized approaches enhance the overall customer experience and demonstrate the potential of AR to streamline traditionally complex processes in the eyewear industry.
The Metaverse in Eyewear Retail
The concept of the metaverse was born in 1992 with Neal Stephenson's seminal cyberpunk novel "Snow Crash." Today, it is primarily understood as a virtual, collective space that transcends the boundaries between physical and digital realms. 3D rules are ignored, allowing avatars to meet in 3D virtual environments.
This offers users a shared, interactive environment. When used by eyewear retailers, the metaverse becomes a dynamic space for promotion and marketing, as seen by the Ready Player Me AR application of Sunglass Hut that set a precedent for other retailers to explore this novel avenue of customer engagement. However, the metaverse can also be seen with products like the Oculus Quest headset, creating a workspace with the Immersed productivity app.
The latter example shows that the metaverse's integration into eyewear goes beyond marketing — it transforms eyewear into a distinctive product category. Ray-Ban Stories, introduced in 2022, showcases the potential of smart eyewear with augmented reality functionality within the metaverse. While still an emerging technology, the compatibility of smart eyewear with the metaverse opens up exciting possibilities. After all, it could take five to 10 years before the critical features of the metaverse become mainstream and fully realized. Ray-Ban Stories, with their capacity to capture photos and videos seamlessly, merely represent the first frontier of the metaverse in the eyewear industry.
As technology continues to evolve, eyewear retailers embracing AR and the metaverse are not only staying ahead of the curve but also reshaping how consumers perceive and experience eyewear. The fusion of digital and physical realms opens the door to endless possibilities, providing a glimpse into the exciting future of eyewear retail. For the latest updates on new tech and future industries, check back with us at ExO Insight.
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