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Smart Glasses - Lucyd's Harrison Gross is a Guest on the Social Geek Podcast

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LET'S DIVE INTO THE EPISODE - HOSTED BY JACK MONSON

Today's guest is the founder of a company called Lucyd. His name is Harrison Gross, and I got to tell you guys, he has one of the most interesting new pieces of technology that I have personally gotten in the past year. I can't wait to learn more about him and his products and services. Harrison, welcome to Social Geek Radio.

Harrison Gross: Pleased to be here. Thanks for having me.

Jack Monson: Before we get into what you guys are working on at Lucyd, tell me a little bit of your backstory.

Harrison Gross: My backstory story is more on the creative side of things. I am a Creative Writing major from Columbia University. It's funny that kind of ended up turning into really helping develop my marketing ability, which I then used to go on and create several different brands and products over the years. My most notable thing before Lucyd was I created an app with one of my Lucyd co-founders Eric called the Tekcapital IP search app. It's an app that lets you search promising university technologies from around the world and bookmark and index your research through these different patents. I have a bit of experience with Front-End Web Development as well and that's come into play with Lucyd well.

In addition to developing e-glasses, we're also a software company developing Mobile Apps for wearables. My background is definitely on the more creative side, but I have some really great tech people around me and together we've built a really interesting startup and I'm just really pleased to talk about it with you today because we have a very exciting new product out, Lucyd Lyte, which just came out two months ago. The rave reviews are really rolling in. Very excited to be on the program and talk about our new product, which I'm actually speaking to you from. I'm actually talking to you from my glasses right now.

Jack Monson: That's amazing. First tell everybody exactly what this product is. It is officially, I guess the category is smart eyewear. Is that right?

Harrison Gross: Yeah, I would classify it as either Bluetooth eyewear or we like to call it e-glasses, which implies some sort of electronically enhanced glasses rather than a full AR smart glass which would have a virtual display as most people view that term. Essentially, what we've created with Lucyd Lyte is a Bluetooth frame, which is in the form factor and has the designer appearance of standard eyewear while having these useful Bluetooth features. It has built-in speakers, it has the microphone and it has these two buttons that allow you to do a number of touch controls.

It basically just reduces the amount that you need to pull out your phone and also eliminates really the need to carry a separate headphone product because you now have your headphones built into your glasses. But what's really unique about the Lyte is that it weighs just over an ounce and because of the miniaturization of the technology, it really has started to look like a normal pair of glasses. We really believe this product is the first entry into the space that looks, feels, and is priced at the same level as normal standard non-smart eyewear, but it has all of these useful smart features.

We really think it's become [inaudible 00:04:11] we've really eliminated a lot of the opportunity costs that is usually associated with smart eyewear. It's that they're too bulky, too expensive, not useful enough, not prescription compatible. We've eliminated all of these issues with the Lyte. Now what we have is a prescription ready, lightweight, comfortable e-glass that can be your go-to glasses. That's really the breakthrough with this product is, all the other smart eyewear products out there, they're fun to wear them for an hour or two, but in terms of being a regular optical glasses that you wear to correct your vision, forget about it. They're just too bulky or they're just not right for that use case. Whereas the Lyte really is designed for that all day optical wear while also offering these really useful tech features.

Jack Monson: You know, that was the number one question I got when I shared some social media post recently of me wearing my new pair of Lytes. The number one question I got was, yeah but, I have this prescription, I can't use something like that. I was like, aha, yes you can. I think that's an interesting direction you guys went with making them available to get a prescription made for them because there's a lot of people out there like me who have really horrible eyesight. You mentioned the cost is very reasonable and they're not real bulky. That was the other thing that I really noticed right away, is anything that I've ever tried on in the past was just like, okay, I can't walk around with something that weighs nine pounds on my head all day. What else sets the Lucyd Lyte apart from some of the other players out there when you guys decided to develop this?

Harrison Gross: The key thing is the prescription factor. We actually have a full lens lab and we cut even progressive prescriptions, transition lenses. We have over 25 different lens types, and they're all super affordable compared to going into an optical store and getting your prescription put in. We have the really affordable and large selection of prescription that's one differentiator. Another is the price of the frame itself, as you mentioned, is 150, which is a $100 less than our key competitor which is the closed frames. The designer styling is very nice. These models weigh between 1.2 and 1.4 ounces, which is just a shade over a regular pair of glasses. The fit, which really comes down to the weight, really does match that of regular glasses. That's another differentiator.

A final point is the touch controls, which after three previous models of Bluetooth eyewear, we really learned a lot about what customers wanted out of the touch interface on the glasses. Whereas most of the competing products released some kind of ambiguous touch pad, which is difficult to use and pinpoint on the side of the glasses, we have these two highly tactile buttons on the bottom of the glasses that allow you to perform a number of useful smart features, including changing the volume of music you're listening to, bringing up stereo Google Voice, pausing your music and skipping tracks. You have all of these functions that you can do that you normally have to pull out your phone for but you can do them right under your glasses with just a click.

That differentiator and the touch controls is also really important because the user feedback on these other touch control methods was really poor. We made sure that we got in the best possible touch control method on the frame. It's really a lot of different factors and different things that we've learned over the last three years of producing Bluetooth eyewear and working really closely with our beta testers and our larger community to really figure out what was needed to make smart eyewear go mainstream, which has always been really the goal of Lucyd since 2017, was to create a mainstream mass market smart eyewear product. Still to this day, you could argue really doesn't even exist now.

Harrison Gross: Lucyd Lyte has that potential. We don't have that deep distribution yet. I think we'll get there soon, but really that is the challenge that we've been trying to overcome is to really create a smart eyewear product that is mass market. It's intensely difficult for a number of reasons. One, the optical reason that you have to be able to do the prescriptions. Two, eyewear is not a one size fits all, or one style fits all products. You really do need to have an expansive line. Right now, we only have six different styles but we're planning on introducing more every few months to eventually build out a full line of 50 plus frames and different sizes and styles to accommodate everywhere because that's also needed. This kind of points to the key problem in the smart eyewear space, it's been around, is that even large companies like Google and Microsoft, they see smart eyewear as a consumer electronic product.

They don't see it as glasses. They released one black model and they called it a day but the reality is that with eyewear, people are expecting to go... they have this experience that they're used to when they go into a LensCrafters or whatever and they have 500 frames to pick from. Emulating that is actually a critical part of the smart eyewear uptake in the market. That's something else that we're really focusing on, is introducing more styles, more sizes to accommodate the widest possible range of users. That's something else that I think is the key differentiator.

Jack Monson: Yeah. I could see that with some other Google glass and things like that in the past where geeks like me would be fine to wear it, but about 90% of the population out there doesn't want to wear something that just makes them look like some uber nerd. With the latest tech, they actually want their frames to look good. The other thing I was just thinking about when you were talking about having controls on the actual frames, I've noticed this already with AirPods or any other sort of wireless headphones that I've used.

I find myself reaching into my pocket every two minutes to adjust something and it's almost to the point where it's worthless to have this wireless thing because I'm constantly reaching for the phone to adjust volume and that kind of thing too. That's an interesting point about the controls, right there on the arms. It's just easy to change. You don't have to go digging for your phone or something like that so that's very cool.

Harrison Gross: Yeah, absolutely. You can even enable a passive Hey Siri or OK Google and you can have that just always on with the glasses. You don't even have to use the touch controls to use Siri or Google Voice.

Jack Monson: Nice.

Harrison Gross: It's really convenient if you're the kind of person that likes to interact with voice assistance a lot or you're not used to using them yet because you don't have a good avenue to use them. This really opens up that technology by being a wearable and making it just so much easier to access those voice assistants.

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Harrison Gross: Yeah. The company is focused on smart eyewear. That's sort of our number one thing, but we are also developing software. We're developing an app called Vyrb, which is basically a voice-based social media app which is designed to enhance our glasses with additional social functionality, or will also have its own interface that you could use on your phone or tablet. Basically, it's just trying to encourage vocal communication between people because so much of our communication online has been condensed into just texts and images.

Jack Monson: Yeah.

Harrison Gross: Zoom in a way has been a big resurgence of the human voice. We think that's really a good sign for us. But basically, Vyrb is just supposed to be this fun new platform where you can record voice posts from your glasses, and you can hear new posts that are coming in on your glasses as well. Ideally, we're also working on some API integrations so that you could, let's say post to Facebook or Twitter through the glasses.

Jack Monson: Oh wow.

Harrison Gross: Using our Vyrb as kind of a bridge to then take that voice content and then either post it as a video on Facebook or post it as sort of textual transcription of what you said. Basically trying to enhance wearables with social functionality because in our view, that was a key thing missing from the glasses, was that social aspect. It's great for music or just in taking content, but how about having two way conversations with people? How about being able to create a voice blog, or a podcast from your glasses very easily? That was something that we really thought would greatly enhance the functionality of the glasses.

We expect to have this app out, the beta version in July. What's really cool about this, we have a little bit of a blockchain background too and we're actually planning on making this app a fully tokenized social experience where you actually grew and spend tokens as you're using the app, let's say by feature upgrades or ads, things like that. What we can do is, we have the system that automatically rewards these feature tokens to people that produce high quality content on the platform. And they can then spend those tokens to increase their influence on the platform or other feature enhancements and basic upgrades and things like that. It's actually a pretty interesting app and then it has a few different aspects to it. It does have this sort of token economy in it, but it's also designed to enhance wearables with the ability to produce and hear voice content without pulling out your phone.

That's essentially what we're doing on the software side, that's the key app. We have actually another utility patent that was just granted on another app called Link, which is designed really more for the future when we're going to have, let's say 5, 10, 20 connected devices in that IOT future where everything's going to be a smart device that's connected. How do you manage all of those connections? That's another app that we're working on for a little bit more down the line when we think wearables will become ubiquitous and you'll need some sort of control panel to control, not only your connections, but also the flow of information between your different connected devices.

Let's say you have your watch and your glasses connected to your phone. Which device do you want the audio output to come out on? Which device do you want audio inputs to go into? Where do you want your visual output to be displayed for this particular app? That's another piece of software that we're working on a little bit more long-term, but Vyrb is going to come out this year. We think if Clubhouse is any indication, there is a need for this new methods of vocal communication. There is a need for that with everyone so disconnected physically these days.

We think Vyrb is going to be a really interesting way for people to just basically share their voice online. We're going to have sort of a radio style feature where you can go on air and do a live voice broadcast, and you can have people call in and do a little sort of a radio show on the app. That's one really cool aspect of it. But the key is really just enabling additional easy methods of voice communication over the focus on using wearables... though. That's basically the focus of our app, but again, it's all about enhancing the glasses because that is our core business and that's what we really see as the future of Lucyd is being a key player in driving the mainstream adoption of smart eyewear.

Jack Monson: Well, keep us posted on Vyrb and when it's ready to roll out.

Harrison Gross: Absolutely.

Jack Monson: Because I have to tell you, the rise of the audio brand again, I think is to me, the most exciting thing that's happening anywhere in social media or technology right now. I think if anything over the past 12 months and COVID and lockdown and everything like that, if we learned anything is that we're tired of Zoom video calls. We're tired of screen time. We're tired of looking at each other. We really want to talk to people. I think that's really exciting. Is that one of the reasons why you guys are sort of getting further and further into audio due to some of the changes over the past year, or are there other reasons that you're really focused on why you do what you do?

Harrison Gross: Well the inception, I started working on Vyrb about a year ago. Basically the driving factor was two-fold. It's one, we wanted to add social features to the glasses. This was the easiest way to do that. And two was, I really noticed there was this void, you know I'm an audio file, I listen to music all day, records, listen podcast all the time. I was just like there has to be a way to bring that content back, this void that was left by radio. There's this huge void left by radio.

Jack Monson: Yeah.

Harrison Gross: ANFM and podcasts too in a way have been.... by YouTube and Zoom calls. I just wanted to bring back the human voice because that is just something that I feel like is really missing from the online era. It ended up being totally right because when we saw with the release of Clubhouse, this was just vocal chatrooms, that's all it is. Vyrb is much more complicated, a lot more features than that, but just this vocal chatroom platform did so well. And it really showed that people just want to be able to talk to each other easily and they want to be able to have conferences and seminars. This is another thing that has completely gone away because the COVID, is the trade shows. You have this major aspect of networking that was so old-school and so entrenched in the way that people did business around the country and around the world. Now that has completely evaporated.

That's another void that needs to be filled, this conference voice. Not just big conferences with thousands of attendees, but normal small business conferences with two businesses meeting together in a room. All of those things have become so fragmented and disparate because of COVID. But even thinking just for my own perspective is, I used to write a lot of poetry and short stories and I never had a great medium to get that out there in vocal format. And I was like, Twitter is so cool because it just lets people do these little quips and texts.

They don't have to overthink it and they can do six of them a day. I'm like, why aren't they doing that with their voice where it's just easier to do it and it's more personal and the information is so much more valuable because it's loaded with all this nuances of human language that you use when you type something. I just wanted to make all of that possible and accessible through the glasses. That's where it comes together where it's like you have this combined ecosystem of the smart frames and the software that goes with it to bring it into that full fruition of functionality.

Jack Monson: Very cool. Harrison, before we go today, if any of our listeners would like to check out the Lucyd Lyte product or any of your apps or anything else that Lucyd is working on, where can we send those folks?

I would just recommend going to our website, L-U-C-Y-D.co. We actually let everyone try our glasses risk-free for seven days. You can try them out and if you don't like them, they're not for you. We take them back. No questions asked. It's just a great place to start and see if our smart eyewear is right for you. I highly encourage everyone to try it. The reviews have been amazing. I've been wearing my prescription blue light pair for days now all day and they just feel great. And Hey, you can even do a podcast interview on.

Jack Monson: I think this is our first podcast with anyone using smart eyewear on their end. Here we go, another first.

Harrison Gross: Yeah. I hope it sound okay.

Jack Monson: No, it sounds really good. I think that's the amazing part of this, is we have guests that come on with a thousand dollar microphone and a $500 pair of headphones and they don't really sound that great. Kudos on the audio quality here. Harrison, thanks so much for joining and we look forward to catching up with you again real soon down the road.

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