It’s about six years ago that I stopped working as a practising optometrist. It suited my family circumstances at the time and it was during that period that I started my blog. I’ve always loved fashion and writing, so a style blog was a natural way of combining the two. I couldn’t have foreseen that my two worlds would collide so beautifully. I never dreamed that one day, I’d go to Berlin to attend The Zeiss Future of Optics convention, as a blogger within the optical sector.
I didn’t know what to expect because a lot of the content was kept secret. I was a little worried. I write for an optometry journal, but would my six years out of optometric practise highlight gaps in my knowledge? Optics is a field in which technology means products and concepts are ever-changing. Would I be too out of touch? It turned out that I needn’t have worried. A lot of the talks were about how future concepts will affect all of our lives, not just those in the optical profession. So read on and enjoy as I take you through my fun-filled forty hours in Berlin.
Day One: Iconic Sights of Berlin and the Estrel Hotel
I arrived in Berlin in the early evening and had a two hour window before dinner. I wanted to see some of this remarkable city so I took a train to the Brandenberg Gate.
Around the corner is the Holocaust Memorial, a memorial to those Jews murdered in Europe. It’s beautiful; poignant and very thought-provoking.
We spent the first night at Estrel Berlin, the largest hotel in Germany, and had dinner in the fabulous atrium.
Day Two: The Conference at Funkhaus, Berlin
The conference took place at Funkhaus, a breathtaking venue on the banks of the River Spree. It’s the former East German radio station with vast spaces and sound chambers. Between the more formal conference proceedings, we were treated to a lunch to die for.
The entertainment was excellent too. We met Pepper the Zeiss robot, played Virtual Reality games and watched acrobats. My favourite thing was a ride on a roller coaster, while wearing a virtual reality headset.
Zeiss And The Future Of Optics
The introduction and keynote speeches took place in the symphony hall, a stunning space with brilliant acoustics. By way of a warm-up we played an interactive football match on a giant screen. A music and light show followed. It was absolutely spectacular.
Zeiss is the world’s leading manufacturer of precision optics in the fields of vision care, microscopy, semiconductor manufacturing and medical technology. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin used Zeiss lenses to shoot their famous moon-landing photographs. 75% of all cataract operations worldwide are performed using surgical systems from Zeiss and more than 35 Nobel Prize winners used Zeiss microscopes. Zeiss has a distinguished past and an exciting future.
Future Trend speaker, Nick Sohnermann, gave a fascinating insight into tomorrow’s trends and into the technology we can expect to see within five years. The driverless car and augmented reality were the things that stuck in my mind. Nick urged businesses and business owners to be pro-active and to embrace innovation and cutting-edge technology. He was engaging, charismatic and filled the room with enthusiasm. a brilliant speaker.
I was impressed with the Zeiss EnergizeMe spectacle lenses. They have been designed to suit the specific needs of contact lens wearers. I spoke to several delegates who wear them and deem them to be excellent.
The Zeiss Concept Store
From online questionaires to Virtual Reality headsets that enable patients to view the world through different lenses. This demonstrated a fascinating insight into current and future concepts available for optometric practice. Simply put, technology is already in place to make the whole process from testing sight to choosing spectacles more straight-forward, more patient-friendly and more successful. This is Zeiss Visuconsult, the way of the future.
A cutting-edge piece of kit, a platform for the optical industry will be launched in Spring 2018. It is set to revolutionise spectacle frame selection. We saw a demonstration and learned how practitioner feedback went a long way towards its conception and design. It’s under wraps for now but I’m looking forward to seeing the impact it’s certain to make.
A River Cruise
The day just kept on giving. After the conference, we went on a boat trip and were subsequently taken by rickshaws to Hotel Park Inn, Alexanderplatz.
Optics is a notoriously small world and I was delighted to meet my friend John Ferrier. He’s married to one of my closest friends from university and I’ve known him for twenty years. We didn’t know the other was going until we met at dinner on the first night. (John is from family business Ferrier and Mackinnon opticians, based in and around Dunfermline. He’s on the right, with his brother and fellow optometrist, Colin. Do go and see him them for your eyecare needs if you live in that area).
Here I am in the rickshaw, en-route to the hotel.
Canapes and Drinks at Park Inn, Alexanderplatz
After a very quick change, it was time for canapes and drinks at the hotel.
Afterwards, we went by coach to the planetarium for more canapes and drinks. What followed was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. A large fairy-lit sculpture of a man moved through the room. The movements were so realistic and graceful and the accompanying music was so beautiful that I had shivers down my spine. Subsequently, there was a light show on the domed ceiling which was incredible. The 3-D effects were amazing.
Dinner and Entertainment at Wintergarten
Another short coach journey took us to the Wintergarten theatre. After a thank you speech we ate more good food, drank more nice wine and enjoyed a very colourful variety show.
The After Party at Park Inn, Alexanderplatz
The finale was a party on the rooftop of the Park Inn hotel, which is where we stayed. It was a brilliant ending to an utterly amazing convention. I learned so much about the future of optics and exciting technological developments. I met new people. It’s hard to believe that this is my job.
Thank you to Zeiss for inviting me. This is one conference I’ll never forget.