High-Tech Glasses

Electronic eyeglasses have tiny batteries, microchips, and various electronics and make your old clunky pair of glasses obsolete. The way eyeglasses traditionally work is by providing an optical lens through which an image is distorted to account for impairments in our vision, thereby causing the image to appear clear.  Traditional glasses have one problem though, the glasses used to read fine print blur when you look at an object further away.  You can opt for bi-focals, but why do that when you can have electronic reading glasses?

The new electronic spectacles are called “emPower” and are intended to solve all problems with traditional glasses.  They do this by adding an insert at the bottom part of the lenses: liquid crystals similar to the kind in television displays.  The crystals change how the lenses refract or bend light, just as varying levels of thickness do in standard glasses.

To turn on the glasses you simply tap the side of the frame.  The tiny batteries stored in the frame send a current that changes the orientation of molecules in the crystals providing you with a crisp view whether reading or hiking.  You can tap them off if you’re trying to see something far away and they are interfering with your vision.

The glasses are made by PixelOptics in Roanoke, VA and cost between $1,000-$1,200 a pair.  This price includes the frames, lenses, coatings, and charger; Yes you must charge them overnight along with your cell and laptop.  Dr. Larry Wan, a managing partner at Family EyeCare Center in Campbell, CA tested the glasses on 10 of his patients in their 50s.  He said they were quite popular, for example, with people who had been bothered by blur as they walked down flights of stairs while wearing their glasses.  “With these,” he said, “you can turn the reading power off, so they are safer and you don’t have that distortion.”

Tech Details:  The transparent layer of liquid crystals and its electrode array are buried beneath the front surface of the lenses. The eyeglass frames have tiny microchips, rechargeable batteries and wires that supply electricity to the lenses. There are also built-in accelerometers, devices that sense the downward bend of a head, as though to look at a page, that can switch on the reading power automatically.  The glasses hold a charge for 2-3 days.

Although the glasses are loaded with electronics they don’t look that way and appear as a pair of normal everyday glasses.  In the case the power goes out and your glasses are low on batteries, I would keep an old fashioned pair around.

Are you interested in getting a pair of electronic reading glasses?  What do you think of the price?

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games / AdventureAWeek.com, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.