Google Glass, VSP deal promising, but not wearable big bang

Google Glass, VSP deal promising, but not wearable big bang

Summary: Google gets distribution for Google Glass, a viable sales channel and an insurance push, but mass market acceptance and pricing isn't a slam dunk.

prescription google glass

Google and VSP Vision Care, an insurer for eye care, have reportedly reached a deal that will offer prescription frames and lenses for Google Glass, those pricey Internet connected specs.

The big win here for Google is that its Google Glass will be embedded into the health care system and subsidized to some degree. The general theme in a New York Times story is that Google will get a lot of distribution and every person will ultimately have Internet connected specs. Meanwhile, Google upgraded frames so Glass doesn't stick out in a crowd as much. Hooray, wearables will go mass market. Earlier: Google puts prescription lenses in Glass' frame

Not so fast.

Sure, Google via VSP will get access to a fifth of insured Americans, but as a veteran of vision care plans I'm willing to bet that the Google Glass price points won't fall enough to go mainstream.

The Times noted that Google will have a consumer version of Glass frames for $225. VSP will reimburse members based on their prescription plan for an average of $120 plus the cost of the lenses. VSP won't subsidize Glass.

However, the real math for Google Glass expenditures gets tricky. Here's how eye-care insurance works today.

  • You get frames subsidized and lenses.
  • Anything additional will cost you. 
  • You get a small selection of frames that'll make economic sense.
  • If you also wear contacts there's a good chance you won't get reimbursed for frames too.
  • Toss in that VSP isn't subsidizing the computer portion of Glass and you're still paying up for lenses, frames and the high-tech part of Glass.

Generally speaking, lenses and frames will run you about $225 with insurance if you keep extras to a minimum. Toss in Glass and it's not a stretch to figure something in the $400 to $500 range all-in. That price tag is certainly cheaper than the $1,500 developer version of Google Glass, but let's not get carried away with the mass distribution theme. Glass is still going to cost you. 

Here's a breakdown of VSP individual plans. VSP plans through corporations can be tweaked, but they rhyme with this price schedule.

vsp plans


And finally, the VSP coverage also doesn't exactly nullify the privacy worries and the overall cultural issues. Unless you're at Google I/O you still feel like a tool wearing Glass (I'll refrain from going the Glasshole route for now).

Forrester analyst JP Gownder said:

Let's remember that Google already has a lot of baggage to overcome -- even before Google Glass has been formally released as a product. Social stigma and privacy concerns (for both bystanders and for wearers) bedevil Glass at every turn, creating a suboptimal cultural environment for launch. Google still has a lot of work to do in terms of fashion (which they are working on already), privacy, and social customs to make Glass viable as a consumer product.

Topics: Mobility, Emerging Tech, Google, Health

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  • Dont get it..

    Why would you want to walk around with Google Glasses and look like a total douchbag?
    • Because that's what..

      douche bags do.
      new gawker
  • I could actually see myself using these for some activities.

    But definitely not for walking around.
  • That cyclist

    is operating a vehicle. He shouldn't be glassing.
  • Plus prescription is harder to take off.

    With the regular Google Glasses, anytime you entered a place where their presence was offensive you could just take them off. If their built into your prescription frame, you can't unless your vision is good enough to see without glasses, or you've spent the money to buy a second pair of backup glasses.
    • Surely you will be able to detach the Glass device from the frame.

  • Phew, that was close....

    Thank God that it is not a "Slam Dunk". The anti-Google crowd need not commit mass suicide yet.
  • More than video?

    Have they made any advancement with this thing apart from shooting video?
    new gawker
  • So uh...

    What is it for? I assume this has some major benefits over simply carrying a phone that warrants wearing this?

    I mean, people don't want to look like a nerd, or they don't want to lug around glasses, or if they already have glasses, they don't want to ditch them in favour of a selection of four whole frames and pray they didn't really need glasses in the first place or else the lenses won't fit.

    Surely it comes loaded with killer features, right?

    ... *crickets*
  • These devices have tremendous potential

    for industries, e.g. construction, military, first responder, and medical care environments, as apps and the user interface are refined. They may be good for some sports and other recreational activities. Rx compatibility is a major advance on these roads.

    I don't think Snoople Specs will ever amount to much as casual wear.
    • Agreed.

      I can see the advantage with police wearing these as well. It would protect them, the public and keep any bad police in line IMO. Personally I respect the police, because they have to deal with the POS most of us do not encounter.

      Lets face it...when you're walking in public, you have zero privacy. I'm not talking about looking under skirts or any kind of scum bag thought, just the general idea of being in a public place. Carry on a phone call in have zero right/expectations for a private conversation.

      I can see this as a great item for general public. It replaces dash cams and now you have people cams.

      I'm not ready to get a pair, but I can see some of the benefits. With everything, it's important that each user be respectful/responsible and not use them for evil uses like voyeurism, etc. Public stoning would curb that kind of bad behavior IMO :->.

      ~Best wishes
      • Except when the cops themselves assault you by grabbing them off your face

        Which is what happened to that movie goer in Ohio.

        What the law enforcement weinies did.
        1. Physically assaulted him.
        2. Disrupted his movie watching.
        3. Stole several hours of his life.
        4. Falsely accused and interrogated.
        5. Disturbed the movie for everyone in the theater.
  • It does really look like a douchbag thing

    They do look like asshole things to wear...
  • OK moving forward

    Billions $$$. I bet the critics are actually developing apps hopeful the other nerds don't catch on yet and trump their app with something better. Privacy is not an issue when phones are ubiquitous. Hmm note to self: app called privacy violator. Oh yea billions!
  • Addendum

    What was I thinking I should call it Glasshole! Be seeing you!