Break on Through to the Other Side
BY JASON J. NICHOLS, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO
Significant product breakthroughs can have a substantial impact on many facets of our lives—from our day-to-day recreational experiences to managing our health and medical status. If you think back in time, I have no doubt that we have all experienced and benefited from product breakthroughs.
The process of creating any new product—breakthrough or not—starts with an idea. I think that the foundation of the idea is the key to the product outcome in terms of whether the actual product is breakthrough or not. To start, ask: “How much does the idea and possible product meet a market need?” Or, if the idea is an extension of a current product, you may ask: “How much better would the new product perform at its task compared to its predecessors?”
A good example of this is the iPod, which was originally released by Apple in late 2001—nearly three to four years after the first digital MP3 player. The key to the success of the iPod was not necessarily the iPod’s technology itself. Rather, it was the fact that Apple had launched its iTunes service months before the iPod, making the digital media experience a seamless one to users.
Now, let’s consider breakthrough technology in the ophthalmic market or, more specifically, in the contact lens segment of the ophthalmic market. Where do you think the breakthrough technology is? Without question, I would point to some novel contact lens materials that have come forth that may help with discomfort and dryness. This is very much needed.
However, one area in which I think we can do better is in multifocal lens technologies—not only for presbyopes, but for other applications such as myopia control as well. This is where the breakthrough is needed—both in terms of advances in product technology and in uptake in our clinics.
What areas do you think could benefit from some breakthrough technologies? Please email us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.