Photochromic Eyewear: Smart Contacts & Glasses

Have you ever owned a pair of sunglasses that adjust to the differing amounts of light? If your answer is yes, then you had or still have a pair of photochromic sunglasses which are also referred to as photochromatic sunglasses or transitional lenses. The lenses will change from clear to dark with the presence of light. When the lenses become exposed to light they darken and if they are in dark areas they will become clear. These types of lenses are perfect for outdoor sports and activities because they quickly adjust to the amount of light which aids visibility.
How Does Photochromic Eyewear Work?
The lenses actually work with molecules. Certain molecules are engineered specifically to darken when they are exposed to light. These molecules are incorporated right into the lenses. When UV rays are not present, the lenses are transparent. When UV rays directly hit the molecules in the lenses they cause a reaction which alters the form of the molecules. When this transformation occurs the lenses darken. The amount that the glasses darken depends on the number of UV rays which hit the molecules. The greater the number of UV rays, the darker the lenses become.
Dynamic Eye
The 2011 Invention Award was bestowed upon Chris Mullin for creating sunglasses which are able to block out points of bright light utilizing LCD-screen lenses. Mullin’s brilliant idea is to use an electronic shield which can instantly block out glare. He named it “Dynamic Eye.” He decided to use a liquid crystal for the material of the lens because it would not impair vision. There is a tiny sensor located on the nose bridge of the glasses which is able to detect glare. Once the glare is detected the sensor then alerts an adjacent microcontroller as to the location of the glare. The microcontroller then directs the liquid crystal lens to display a four or six millimeter black square which will be in front of the eye in order to block the glare. The square blocks the source of the glare from all angles because it moves with the wearer. The surroundings always remain visible. This type of sunglasses is not yet available for purchase as Mullin continues to work on improving his invention.
Finland researchers developed a prototype of a pair of glasses that connect to a small, handheld computer and are able to retrieve information from a database. The glasses are able to recognize people and objects that are in the wearer’s field of vision and will display information concerning these things on the inside of the lens. The information appears in a way that makes it seem like it is out in the real world. Eventually researchers want the special glasses to sync up wirelessly with the Internet in order to retrieve the information. The glasses would be able to zoom in on the people and objects that you see and through artificial intelligence software determine the relevance to you. A very small transparent display which sits close to your eyes shows the information when it is received. The images and text appear to hover near or above where you are looking. These glasses create an augmented reality which is a combination of real and virtual worlds. By the end of 2012, Google plans to have augmented-reality smart sunglasses for sale to the general public. The glasses are Android-powered and feature an on-board camera that observes your surroundings. Information regarding the people or places you see will be overlaid on your field of vision. The data you may be pondering about will simply appear without the need to research it. EmPower electronic focusing eyewear is another type of smartglasses which utilize a liquid-crystal layer which is powered by an electric charge that switches the glasses focus from distance to reading. Users only need to touch the glasses frame at the temple in order to turn the reading focus off and on. When in automatic mode and due to what is referred to as PixelOptics, the glasses can actually sense motion and when your head is lowered the glasses will change to the reading focus. The glasses need to rest in a dock in order to recharge the battery. As of March 2012, these glasses are only available on the East Coast and are expensive. Technology is constantly advancing and glasses will continue to advance with it.

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