Alexandra Macsimov, Co-Founder, STS
The Co-Founder of STS, providers of the apps, EyeDistance and adn°° says that the move toward digitalization, sped up by the pandemic, was inevitable and should not be ignored. She talked to 20/20 Europe's editorial team to explain the benefits of mobile apps for the optical retailer as well as the customer in the current climate, and for the future.
Q: STS specializes in mobile apps for the optical industry. Can you explain which apps you are currently offering and who they can be used by?
A: We are currently offering two apps: EyeDistance and adn°°. EyeDistance was launched in 2019 to adapt to the new market reality. Its purpose is to digitally calculate the pupillary distance. Following EyeDistance’s success, we decided to propose a fix-all solution for customer pain points, and so the virtual try-on eyewear app adn° was born. The app duo was created with both the customer and optician in mind, consequently both categories can use it trouble-free. In addition to these two modes of up and running software we are also offering custom-made apps for the optical companies.
Q: How has this technology improved and developed in the last years? Please give examples of the functionality of the apps and the most exciting features e.g., frame customization.
A: â€‹Our apps rely on three technological pillars, TrueDepth, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence. These are some of the most advanced hardware and software ever created and so we can justifiably call our apps state-of-the-art and unique within the optical industry. TrueDepth offers unprecedented precision by creating a depth map of the face. This makes it possible to take contactless measurements and show the eyewear true to size. Augmented reality pulls the customer into an immersive experience and enables them to interact and manipulate the glasses. Finally, artificial intelligence offers face and frame recognition as well as providing the customer with their very own smart assistant to help them choose the perfect eyewear based on their specific criteria.
Q: Can you also perform lens selection via the apps or optical measurements?
A: With EyeDistance, PD measurements can be performed within seconds. Additionally, an upgraded version containing even more complex measurements such as Seg height is in the works and expected to be launched soon. We have also developed a custom-made lens selection app for one of our clients. The app is a helpful tool for opticians assisting them in finding the perfect fitted lenses for all their customers.
Q: Why should the apps be of interest to the optical retailer or optician in this current climate? Can they improve sales potential and how?
A: It is precisely the current climate that pushed us to create these apps. It was high time that the optical industry becomes fully digitalized, and the pandemic made the shift towards digital operations inevitable. The increasing interest that our apps have gained since their inception confirmed our initial belief, namely that optical retailers, opticians, as well as spectacle wearers, are ready to embrace this digital transformation. The purpose of adn°° is to facilitate and enhance the customer’s buying experience. The shopper can navigate through an infinite selection of eyewear and find the perfect fitted frame, all within the comfort of their home. adn°° will also connect them with a nearby optician or with the brand whose eyewear the customer is interested in buying.
Q: “Our AR-based apps delve deeper into facial features and helps you choose a frame or lens that meets your design goals. If you can imagine it, we can create it! “Can you explain this claim a little further for us.
A: We are driven by the philosophy that it’s the customer who is in the driving seat. Most digital customers are app-native and optimizing their experience is essential. Our apps are made with these tech-savvy shoppers in mind and are ready to meet their demands. Glasses have come a long way from being an optical visual aid to a style statement. More people are adopting eyewear as a fashion accessory. In a culture that celebrates individuality, customers want to feel and look unique. Here at STS, we want to offer them just that, namely, the freedom of choice. Thanks to the infinite selection of eyewear, each and every one can find a model and pattern that suits them best. But that’s not all. In addition to the myriad of choices, thanks to the state-of-the-art technology of our apps, the customer will be able to have a realistic experience of wearing the glasses, and making a choice based on their facial features and personal preferences. This kind of online eyewear experience is unprecedented, and we are proud to make this a reality. It is through its commitment to customer experience that STS sets itself apart in the industry.
Q: Are optical retailers already using the apps for their customers? Please explain how and when your business was launched and what your goals are in 2022?
A: Optical retailers and opticians are successfully using our EyeDistance app for digital PD measurements and have shown increasing interest in adn°° as well. We have been working in the optical business for six years and so we have learned the ins and outs of the industry. Even before the pandemic hit, the global eyewear market needed digitalization. Customers are active online and that’s precisely where retailers need to be. Technology has transformed consumer habits and companies need to adapt to the modern buyer’s needs. We took into consideration these needs and in 2019 we launched our business. At STS we strongly believe that finding the perfect frame should not be a strenuous and time-consuming experience. Our next goal is to officially launch adn°° as a multi brand platform and connect people with favorite brands and their nearest opticians.