AR App ‘Fitz Frames’ and 3D Printing Enables Kids to Customize Their Prescription Glasses
Finding the right prescription lenses is often the easy part when you are looking for prescription glasses. The hard work begins when it comes to picking the frames, particularly for kids. When buying glasses for kids, you would want something that is not only affordable but which is also cute and which will fit nicely on the child’s face.
There is a problem with how most glasses fit kids. Certain angles could be too severe or the bridge could be too heavy which will make the glasses uncomfortable for kids and also unfashionable.
Fitz Frames is a startup that was formed to simplify the process of shopping for glasses for kids. Fitz Frames also provides a modern solution for shopping for glasses for kids away from the traditional cumbersome visit to the optician’s. It does this through a smartphone app that photographs and measures the child’s face and then creates custom glasses for them using 3D printing which can be delivered in a week. Currently, the augmented reality app is only available on iPhones although the company is working on an Android version.
Fitz Frames was founded by Heidi Hertel who was inspired by her own struggles to find suitable glasses for her kids. The augmented reality startup was launched early this week and makes use of AR technology to provide parents with young kids a convenient and easily accessible tool which they can use to customize their kids’ prescription eyewear and sunglasses.
The company’s customized 3D printed glasses are both fun and stylish and have been specifically designed to provide a precise and stylish fit for kids. The glasses are made from nylon powder or polyamide so the frames are much lighter than the conventional ones. The glasses are also made in the US unlike most eyewear which come from China.
The local 3D printing also means super-fast delivery. According to the company, it will take just a week between placing of an order and having the new glasses delivered to the customer. For the time being, orders will take two weeks due to the company’s long pre-launch wait-list of more than 5,000 orders. Once these are processed, expect much shorter delivery times.
How it Works
The app will begin by measuring the kid’s face using an augmented reality filter. The app then analyzes the dimensions of individual expressions so as to find the precise fit. After it has scanned, kids can virtually “try on” a catalogue of augmented reality frames from multiple angles. The company is currently offering up to six frame shapes that come in eight different colors. Kids can get backup glasses and mix and match the colors while also making a fashion statement along the way as they acquire new pairs of glasses.
When kids have selected a preferred pair, Fitz Frames will 3D-print the frames so as to match the child’s precise measurements. The frames are then sent directly to the buyer’s address. This seamless process eliminates the need of visiting the optician’s and trying on numerous glasses with a distracted kid under pressure from the salesperson eager to close the sale and move on to the next customer.
Fitz Frames will also help kids overcome the guilt they feel whenever they break glasses. The most common fracture point in glasses is the tiny screw at the fold. The screw also gets lost more often, forcing the parent to replace the costly frames. In the Fitz Frames glasses, the screws have been replaced with snap hit hinges which are more durable and which have no risk slackening and getting lost.
Fitz Frames founder Hertel also founded the start-up to help demystify eyeglasses for kids. She wants the process of shopping for and wearing glasses to be fun for kids. The glasses become more like a fun gift or accessory than a burdensome accessory that will constantly remind them of their medical condition.
Each Fitz Frames pair comes with an environmentally sustainable box which has also been made in Youngstown in the US. The box will also be customized with the child ‘s name thereby personalizing it and adding to the gift-like feel. Every frame will also include the owner’s name, a phone number or the kid’s favorite spirit animal on the side which they can choose when customizing the glasses with the app.
A pair of the glasses will go for $95. A subscription that includes two pairs and an unlimited number of frames per year and prescription sunglasses goes for $185 but with a charge for the new lenses.
The startup’s founder Heidi Hertel hopes that the AR app will also help sensitize parents about vision problems in young kids. Most of the time, we assume that vision problems are a preserve of teenagers or adults but kids can suffer from these, too.
According to the American Optometric Association, one in five preschoolers have vision problems and up to 25% of kids will require prescription lenses by the time they are getting into school. That translates to a whopping 22 to 25 million children under the age of 18 in the U.S. who need to wear prescription eyeglasses. In spite of this, up to 50% of American parents fail to take their kids to the optician’s according to the U.S. vision insurance company VSP Vision Care. This could pose a serious problem since certain vision problems need to be corrected earlier on to avoid permanent damage to the child’s vision.
You can download the Fitz Frames app on iOS free.