Shamir had already created some excitement at the Vision Expo East fair in New York two years ago with the release of a tablet, called Spark, that allows the optician to measure electronically the customer's inter-pupillary distance and other parameters to fit a new pair of prescription lenses.
At last month's edition of the New York show, Shamir introduced a more evolved version of the tablet, Spark Mi, which uses three cameras instead of two to measure the parameters for ordinary lenses or even wrap-around lenses with a basecurve of up to 8 or 10, such as Shamir's own Attitude III progressive lenses. Two of the three cameras are infrared devices that can even take the measurements behind tinted sunglasses, with the exception of some mirror-coated lenses.
The Spark Mi looks like a tabletop mirror. It can be placed on the optician's desk in front of the seated customer's eyes. The 3D image is captured for all measurements with just one click. The data are transmitted to the optician's computer, which processes them automatically and sends them to the laboratory. The data can also be used to prescribe the lenses of Shamir's competitors.
Shamir has just started marketing the new measuring tool in various European countries at a basic price of €2,700. In France, one of the first countries where it is being presented, Shamir is teaming up with small French supplier of affordable sunglasses, Altitude, founded by two former managers of Julbo in September 2013. The agreement is not exclusive.
Covered by patents, the Spark Mi system has been developed by Shamir at its own head office in Israel, which employs 70 people in R&D. Shamir, which has been 50 percent owned by Essilor International since five years ago, spent 2.7 percent of its sales of $240 million last year on R&D.