With three out of four French people with a visual impairment and 44 million people wearing glasses and/or lenses, the optics market seems attractive. In France, this market represents more than 6.6 billion euros in 2019. Opticians are of course the leading players. While the market remains dominated by independents, who win in terms of number of stores (49.8% of the total number of stores), the bulk of sales is concentrated in the hands of a handful of players. Thirteen chains account for 71% of revenues. The top three are Optic 2000, Krys and Les opticiens mutualistes. Eyeglasses, sunglasses and contact lenses have been the leading products on the market. But in recent years, new companies and solutions have emerged that could radically change the way we see the world…

Virtual Reality

When we think of virtual reality, we instantly think of video games. But applications in tourism, cinema, sport and more generally leisure are developing more and more. Even though this is a very young market originally intended for the general public, multinationals have also understood the challenges and potential of this new technology and have been quick to seize it. Five sectors are already predestined for the use of RVs by 2022: industry, retail, transport, media, utilities.

In the industrial sector, virtual reality VR can, for example, offer the possibility of taking virtual tours of production lines and maximising and securing factory space. Several companies have experimented with this in the interest of transparency with their customers and investors. But it is also a way to be able to carry out regular inspections in a faster and cheaper way.

RV also allows for immersive and interactive online training. A time saving for employees but also for companies. This is the case for UPS, for example, which trains its employees in road safety through virtual reality in nine of its American centres.

RV is also very present in the events and marketing sector. It is often used to enhance user experiences during product presentation through physical presentation or interactive advertising. You probably remember the Superbowl of 2018? where Pepsi and Google teamed up to offer an unforgettable experience at the wheel of the Dolorean back to the future to relive all the mythical ads of the brand.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality is also a breakthrough that has brought about great technological changes. The concept of Augmented Reality is to integrate digital 3D elements, in real time, to our vision. The challenge is based on the idea of combining the virtual and the real so that the two merge into a single field. Nowadays, thanks to our smartphones, tablets or headsets it is possible to have a breathtaking result.

Augmented reality is mainly of interest to companies that wish to digitalize their offer and offer new possibilities to consumers. A new way to create 4.0 marketing. We can for example talk about augmented reality mirrors in fashion stores to try on our clothes virtually. Nike and Etam stores have already experimented with this.

The architectural and real estate sectors have also adopted this technology. It is now possible to preview buildings in 3D before construction or to build and fit out rooms virtually. AR therefore allows us to set up all kinds of modular parameters to facilitate our decision-making.

Image from the newspapper Le Parisien

The military aera is also an area where technology is paramount and augmented reality is an integral part of it. The US Army has launched the TAR (Tactical Augmented Reality) project where US Army soldiers will be equipped with AR goggles and helmets that will allow them to mark the positioning of enemies and allies in the field. For the US Navy, the GunnAR project was launched in 2017 with a first prototype helmet that will improve soldiers’ shooting accuracy and target location by means of an integrated screen.

Connected objects

Connected objects also have their share of the cake in this new world of optics. In 2020, ultra-innovative lenses were unveiled. A prototype that would allow you to see better in the dark, to zoom in from your lens to widen your vision or to have a text screen available. James Bond just has to behave himself!

While waiting for this new gadget, we can already get connected glasses. Listening to music, telephoning, controlling your heart rate… 21st century glasses have become very versatile. From Google to Snapchat through Epson, ads have multiplied in recent years with the ambition to get a new market off the ground. R&D, logistics, product development, marketing, human resources, customer support… the use cases are therefore infinite for this new market in full expansion. All that remains is to move from fiction to reality 😊