Glasses are expensive. Ridiculously expensive. As any fellow four-eyes knows, getting a new pair that actually fit and don't look awful is going to set you back around $300 for the frame alone. But not anymore, thanks to robotics.
Tokyo-based eyewear brand, JINS, just opened its first San Francisco-based store in Union Square this week, selling high-quality, nice-looking, affordable glasses made by a robot while you wait.
That's right, no more waiting days or weeks for your new prescription lenses to show up, JINS' in-store glasses-making robot -- Kanna -- bangs out a new pair in just 30 minutes, robot assembly line style, for anywhere between $60-$120.
The price covers the frames, lenses, UV coating, and case, though progressive, bifocal, colored, or polarized lenses cost an additional $60 to $80.
Since opening its first store in 2001, JINS has rapidly grown to become Japan's largest eyewear retailer by volume, and today, operates more than 300 retail locations across Japan. This store is its first in the US, and local eyewear dealers are unlikely to be particularly pleased with the robotic competition driving down prices.
In this new era of 3D printing and on-the-spot manufacturing, it's perhaps not terribly surprising that the eyewear industry is getting a make-over, and the cheaper pricing is incredibly welcome.
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Could this be the first wave of fashion-tech, in-store robots? Will we soon be able to go into any shop and have clothes and accessories custom made while we wait?
I hope so, and I, personally, welcome you, Kanna, my robotic overlord, for helping me see a clearer, brighter future.
A regular speaker on the tech conference circuit and a Senior Director at FTI Consulting, Sylvie Barak is an authority on the electronics space, social media in a b2b context, digital content creation and distribution. She has a passion for gadgets, electronics, and science fiction.
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