What is the Topology app?

Simply take a selfie from your iPhone, select and style your frames and lenses then order from your phone with no need to go in-store.

Why did you make this app? What was the inspiration?

As great as it is, the app and the AR within it is really just a means to an end – perfect fitting glasses, for any face.

The founder, Eric Varady had the idea after he became very frustrated shopping for glasses for himself.  As an MIT manufacturing major, and an engineer of advanced implantable medical devices, he wondered how it could possibly be so hard to make glasses that actually fit!

Eric eventually realized that the real problem is that everyone is different, but all glasses are made thousands at a time in mythical “average” sizes and shapes that don’t actually fit real people.  So the epiphany was realizing that what was needed was bespoke, or custom fit glasses.  That is, glasses made one at a time, perfectly sized and shaped for one person at a time.

There is a nice recording of Eric relaying the story in this podcast episode.

What were your biggest challenges?

Eric realized that being successful in making custom-fit glasses at scale would require overcoming 3 huge, critical challenges:

Capturing customer measurements. Eric needed a way of taking very precise measurements and contour imprints of every customer, but doing so remotely.  This is the first role of the app.  We use computer vision to build a 3D model of the customer’s face, from just a simple selfie from any iPhone.

 

Allowing customers to preview their design so they know what they are buying this is the purpose of the AR in the app.  To enable customers to see what colour and sizing choices mean, in real time.

 

Making the glasses from premium materials. Other companies had tried making custom-fit eyewear from 3D printing.  Whilst simpler, this creates a very expensive product, that feels very cheap.  Eric and team spent years innovating on the physical manufacturing process to be able to use only premium materials such as Italian Acetate, and make one at a time, what other manufacturers can only do thousands at a time.

Who was involved?

Mostly Eric in the early days, before bringing in subject matter experts across both hardware and software.  Most things we are doing are right at the cutting edge of their respective technologies, so we have experts in say computer vision or growth marketing, but everything they are doing is being done for the first time.

What tools did you use?

As Eric started on this about 3 years ago, most recent tools such as AR kit or FaceId did not exist.  Therefore most development has been in-house, custom build.

Did you use any tutorials you can recommend?

Again, honestly, we are breaking new ground in so many ways that there has not been much to go from in the AR field.  Eric would like to credit Matthijs Hollemans and his blog http://machinethink.net/ which includes some useful AR related material.  Also, our CTO Alexis Gallagher has been a great source of first-hand info and referrals.

What’s coming next? What are your plans?

Specific to AR and iPhone development we are of course excited about FaceId, as well as generally increased client-side processing and far better rendering.  Stay tuned and watch closely as we roll those into the app over time.

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