The eyewear industry has been seeing steady growth recently, with an article from Yahoo! Finance showing that it’s expected to yield an approximate increase of $76 billion in market size by 2027. That’s arguably why it’s among those that hold the most opportunities for startups, allowing companies like Warby Parker to grow from an initial $2500 seed investment to a market player capable of raising up to $245 million in its Series F and G funding rounds. The primary drivers for the success of the industry and the companies it contains are the demand for accessories to correct rising vision problems and an interest in seeing innovative technology for eyewear.
One of the latest innovations in the eyewear market is smart glasses, which are essentially wearable computers designed to perform a wide range of functions. Some offer visual reality (VR) components for enhanced gaming, while others strive to amplify inclusivity by incorporating features to assist people with vision issues. With this, some stakeholders have taken it a step further to create eyewear that can integrate hearing aid tech for more convenience.
Such is the case with the parent company of two of the biggest eyewear brands in the world: Oakley and Ray-Ban. Industry leader EssilorLuxottica recently acquired a startup company to invest in further innovation with their eyewear. Here’s what you need to know.
EssilorLuxottica is a leading eyewear corporation that strives to transform the industry through its efforts to adapt to the world’s evolving vision needs. It’s primarily known for its vast portfolio of brands that cater to users leading different lifestyles, which is evident in the performance of the top-selling sunglasses from its bestsellers Oakley and Ray-Ban.
Ray-Ban is a household name known for the quality and craftsmanship that’s popularized the iconic Aviators, Wayfarers, and Clubmasters. It’s set a lasting trend in sunglasses design that appeals to both everyday users and professionals like pilots for whom the Aviators were originally created. And though Oakley sports glasses are what the company are best known for, the activewear brand has had an equally significant impact on the eyewear industry. Its trademark O-Matter technology for lightweight, comfortable frames and PRIZM polarized lenses for enhanced color and contrast has made Oakley a favorite among athletes and sports fans alike, with everyone from Robert Downey, Jr. to Kylian Mbappé sporting classic designs like the Holbrook and Kato.
Beyond its contributions to eyewear through these two brands, however, EssilorLuxottica is recognized for innovative offerings that cater to neglected consumer needs. One notable initiative is the OneSight EssilorLuxottica Foundation, which collaborates with governments, NGOs, and like-minded private organizations to make eyewear more accessible and uphold good vision as a basic human right. It recently launched the Varilux XR lenses, multifocal lenses designed to address presbyopia by using artificial intelligence (AI) features that adapt to its wearer. The technology of these lenses makes it easier to have a responsive lens to conveniently correct a condition that largely affects older adults. With these technologies, it’s thus no surprise that EssilorLuxottica is now investing in innovative eyewear features beneficial for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
Expanding eyewear technology
According to a press release, EssilorLuxottica acquired Nuance Hearing, an Israeli hearing technology startup, as part of its interest to expand into that particular market. One of its primary motivations in wanting to innovate eyewear to accommodate hard-of-hearing individuals is to address the stigma surrounding traditional hearing solutions. EssilorLuxottica also wanted to incorporate comfort and style with hearing aid functionality to step away from conventionally cumbersome styles through eyewear.
The acquisition led to the debut of the Nuance Audio frames at CES 2024. Unlike typical hearing aids, the audio component for this eyewear is completely invisible. That’s because the innovation uses what EssilorLuxottica calls “directivity,” which amplifies the sound coming from where the wearer is looking at. Along with the usual features like wireless charging, these groundbreaking frames provide ease of use while also removing the social barriers that often discourage consumers from using traditional hearing aids.
In doing so, EssilorLuxottica has opened Nuance’s current user base to the oft-looked-over population of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, which current data from the National Institutes of Health pegs at around 401.4 million people globally. The innovative eyewear resulting from this investment may also be especially useful for those who already wear glasses.
With this latest startup acquisition, EssilorLuxottica continues to cement its position as a leader in the eyewear industry. Its recent venture with hearing aids technology is not only a great opportunity for further business growth, but is also a significant leap towards creating more eyewear designed to bolster inclusivity.
To explore more such startups, visit Zefyron Startup Database
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