Michael Freeman, Founder, CEO, & CTO
Former Brigadier General (U.S. Air Force) Richard Freeman was a man of many talents, but one that was closest to his heart was his passion for flying. During his 35-year long Air Force career as a fighter jet pilot, Richard had completed over 30,000 flying hours. He was also an entrepreneur and purchased a computer company, which he grew to become one of the largest suppliers of computer products in the state of California. “My brother, Mitch, and I grew up building, shipping, and installing computers for our dad,” says Michael Freeman. Along with their father and brother-in-law, Chad Boss, they became the first to invent streaming mobile video which is still used to send videos in smartphones today. The technology garnered the team two 1994 Emmy Awards for technology contributions to the television industry. Fast-forward to the 2000’s and most of Richard’s activities came to a halt when he was diagnosed with advanced macular degeneration (AMD). An incurable eye disease, AMD affects over 13 million people in the U.S. causing damage to a person’s central vision, making it harder for them to even carry out simple everyday activities such as reading and writing. Thus, Richard had to give up flying as well as driving cars, reading emails, and his beloved yard work. Richard’s budding idea to use AR to solve the malady pushed him, his sons, and grandson, Jordan Boss forward to find a solution for the people suffering from AMD. In a few years, they went on to develop a first-of-its-kind, breakthrough eye-tracking technology. Offered via their company—Ocutrx Vision Technologies’ flagship product Oculenz AR glasses, the groundbreaking technology promises to change the scenario for patients with AMD or other irreversible central eye defects.
“The innovative solution, designed in collaboration with the award-winning industrial firm Karten Design brings new hope to regain functional vision that was previously considered impossible,” says Freeman, founder, CEO, and CTO of Ocutrx.
Ocutrx’s USPTO-patented Oculenz has the widest field-of-vision in the industry, with a 110-degree high-resolution heads-up display, in a wirelessly connected, untethered, micro-weight headset. The AR device consists of eye-tracking cameras and infrared (IR) illumination mounted in a nose bridge that provides a clear line-of-sight to the eye and does not obstruct the user’s field-of-view. When a patient puts it on, Ocutrx’s Visual Field testing identifies and maps out the analog retinal defect in relationship to the digital glasses. Then the eye-tracking technology keeps the patient’s eye gaze aligned with the Oculenz buffered streaming video image. “Through neuroadaptation, instead of delivering images to the defective area, the video is displayed to the functional areas of the macula in the retina or areas adjacent to the peripheral retina,” explains Freeman. The projection can also be adjusted during the course of disease progression using controls on the headset. The AR wear can also be paired with other devices, like a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or smartwatch. Then all of a user’s apps on their other devices can be migrated to the Oculenz headset and controlled seamlessly and the Oculenz can make and receive cellular calls like a smartphone.
Oculenz’s clinical-test on patients with eye defects has already proved to be extremely effective. People that earlier couldn’t even read the first line on an eye chart, today, are able to read five lines down by wearing Ocutrx’s lenses. That being said, Ocutrx’s methods for capturing, tracking, and processing eye movements in the Oculenz device not only helps patients with AMD but also those with eye movement disorders. The glasses have the potential to help detect and correct abnormalities in eye movements like patients with amblyopia (lazy eye), strokes, concussions, and neurologic disorders.
“What truly makes our AR glasses unique is that they are less obstructive and lightweight in comparison to Magic Leap’s AR headset or Microsoft’s HoloLens 2,” states Freeman. In addition, the design of the glasses makes Oculenz suitable for a number of other medical applications. For example, a surgeon in an OR can now benefit from Oculenz during surgery through its immersive 3D visualization capabilities.
Today, the company is working on enhancing Oculenz’s application for sectors other than healthcare, including gaming, commercial, industrial, e-commerce, aerospace, drones, and defense. “It is a time where AR/VR— considered to be the fourth wave of digital technology—is becoming mainstream, just like smartphone did a few decades back,” mentions Freeman. And, with its easy-to-wear, user-friendly design, Oculenz is all set to become the ‘eyes’ creating impactful, revolutionary experiences for people with vision defects.