By Liz Warren-Pederson
The team behind the venture – Zach Poll, Matt Schwartz, Ashley Hauer, and Jeff Hamilton, all graduating seniors – describes their venture as the “Dr. Scholl’s of reading glasses.”
“We briefly worked with the UA College of Optical Sciences,” explained Schwartz, an engineering management major. “Once learning about some emerging technologies, we found ways to apply the technologies to make personalized reading glasses.”
They saw an application for that technology – liquid lens – to a diagnostic device. “What we do is provide a kiosk to walk customers through the process of choosing which reading glasses to buy,” said Schwartz. “We use the liquid lens to help people find the reading glasses that are best for them. We then provide frames and pop-in lenses.”
Schwartz and his team credit mentors-in-residence Jim Jindrick and Emre Toker for the support and influence they’ve had on the venture. “Emre had a great connection to Jeff Rein, former CEO of Walgreens,” Schwartz said. “We spoke with Jeff and a Walgreens district manager, and they gave us great feedback on how to move forward with our venture, with the goal of ending up in a Walgreens store.”
Through funding from the Hearst Foundation, the team purchased the components for their prototype. “We were able to develop it using commercially available liquid lens glasses, and we designed it taking into consideration how it would be used by people,” Schwartz said. “We also filed a provisional patent on our prototype.”
Now, as the team prepares to graduate, Schwartz said they’re looking to the future. “Our victory gave us a new-found confidence in our venture and we are currently working on our options as to how we can launch.”
Top photo of EasyEye (L-R: Zach Poll, Jim Jindrick, Ashley Hauer, Jeff Hamilton, and Matt Schwartz) by Sarah Mauet.