Friday April 7, 2006

Smart Glasses

I've been nearsighted since I was 4 or 5. I've worn glasses since the third grade. When I hit 40, my accommodation went to Presbyopia in a handbasket.

I wear progressive bifocals. Rich has four different pairs of glasses — intermediate, distance, reading, and computer. I sit a little bit farther away from the computer screen than I used to. Our optometrist keeps suggesting LASIK (no thanks). But now, there's something new on the horizon...

Glasses that change from "long distance" to "reading" mode at the flick of a switch could prove a revelation for many wearers.

Researchers [at PixelOptics, in Virginia] have developed a prototype that uses liquid crystals to change focus in an instant, thus preventing the eye strain induced by wearing conventional bifocal glasses. Focusing through specific portions of a bifocal lens causes many users to become dizzy or disoriented, while others report increased eye fatigue.

[ Smart glasses switch focus in an instant in New Scientist, 03 April 2006 ]

I don't experience eye strain with my progressive lenses (and never had difficulty getting used to them). Still... it would be very interesting to try a pair of these dynamic glasses. They'd be especially useful for Rich. If he only had one pair of glasses, he'd be less likely to mislay them!

It's particularly interesting to me to see that the technology for these "dynamic glasses" was originally developed for computer users.

PixelOptics first developed the idea of dynamic focusing while working on large lenses for computer screens. Ideally, these would have allowed near-sighted and far-sighted people to read their monitors without their spectacles. "As screens got thinner and thinner, though, the idea became less practical," [Ronald Blum, CEO of PixelOptics] says. "So instead we decided to move the technology from the computer to the computer user."

PixelOptics plans to sell glasses containing dynamic lenses commercially within two years. I'll look forward to trying a pair.


April 22, 2006

Also In Science News

The glasses are discussed in the April 22 issue of Science News.

Smart Glasses ( in category Noteworthy , SciTech ) - posted at Fri, 07 Apr, 19:26 Pacific | «e»

Comments

Try contacts Vicki. Then you just take your reading glasses on and off. (And they don't fog up!)

Dad

You mean stick something in my eye?!?! Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND?