In the previous blog post about our development as a product and business, I was writing about how we started, how we failed and how we learned and improved in the process of developing our first solution Smart Optometry.
After 2 years of development it became crystal clear to us that Smart Optometry application won’t be a big business success we thought and planned. We realized that it is time to move on and turn a new chapter. The good thing was that we were in touch with different eye care specialists all around the world who were actively using our smartphone and tablet application. We were trying to figure out where they struggle and what are the challenges that digital company like ours could help with. Although we had users from every part of the globe, the idea for our next solution came from close to home – it was a meeting at Ljubljana University Eye Clinic that gave us a boost and the journey began.
If you haven’t read the first part of this development series its available for you here. Join us – we have a lot of interesting stuff to share!
Partnering with Specialists before development
In the beginning, I have to admit I didn’t know much about eyes and vision. My background is computer science and the only thing I knew about eyes was that I need them to be able to see the screen… Joking aside, I didn’t know much about this field when we started our company almost 5 years ago. Thankfully, one of our founders – Matic Vogric – was an eye care specialist and he was in charge of guaranteeing a high rate of professionalism and medical precision.
We soon realized that other team members have to learn much more about how our eyes work if we want to develop software for this field. We learned a lot already in the process of development of the Smart Optometry app, but we were still far from being experts. This is why we always partner with numerous eye care specialists and work with them to gain a good understanding of the issues and build together solutions that best fit their and their patient’s needs.
Amblyopia? Lazy eye?
In that first meeting at the clinic, the doctors started sharing with us the different problems they are faced with. One of the recurring topics was the problem of amblyopia. Wait, what? The need for including specialists from the field became apparent once again. I’ve heard about this problem for the first time. Amblyopia? Lazy eye? Soon the doctors explained to us more in-depth what the problems are, where they come from and what are current treatment options for it.
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Shortly for those who are reading this and are not aware of the problem we are solving with AmblyoPlay: lazy eye or amblyopia is the case when one eye is less developed than the other and if we want to have perfect binocular vision we have to train the lazy eye to get it to the level of the better eye. We can treat the lazy eye with different methods and vision therapy has been proven as the best possible option. But the problem with vision therapy is that it has to be done every day. Even if one is doing in-office vision therapy, they have to do their vision therapy homework. However, a lot of these home-based methods are boring and time-consuming which is why children refuse to do it.
We wanted to understand the problem more in-depth before we started with development. Why there are so many problems if the treatment options are available and they work? According to the doctors, oftentimes the issue is that children refuse to do vision therapy homework and parents have a hard time convincing them to do it every day. We soon figured out that the problem is not in the treatment options – but rather in the lack of motivation and engagement.
This is where the picture became clearer to us. We know how to build the most engaging software to increase the level of motivation through a modern digital product that engages children to perform exercises regularly. With improved compliance with the therapy process, the treatment will be better and faster.
Basic Development Idea
After having a few meetings, we had the basic idea of what we want to do but no idea how we will build it. We had 2 fulltime developers and the project seemed way too big. We started to prepare the development and business plan. After working on that for several weeks we went through the business plan draft and it became apparent to all of us that the resources needed for such undertaking far exceeded what we had available. It was a dead-end for us at that point. At least we taught that.
We managed to develop AmblyoPlay to what it is today and I will explain more about how we started to work on this project despite all the problems we saw on the horizon. Stay tuned!