E-focals: Electric Eyeglasses Are the New Bifocals

By Joseph Calamia | June 21, 2010 12:26 pm

benBenjamin Franklin would be proud. The tinkerer who loved playing with electricity and allegedly invented the bifocals might have been glad to know that one company has now brought the two things together: PixelOptics has designed a pair of powered specs that can track users’ eyes and automatically adjust the glasses’ focal length, depending on if the wearer needs to see close-up or far-away.

The glasses use liquid crystals, which can change how much they bend light when an electrical current runs through them. A video demonstration of what a wearer might see is available on PixelOptics’ website, and the company hopes that the glasses will be available in the United States before the end of 2010.

Peter Zieman, director of European sales for PixelOptics, said the device uses motion tracking software similar to the iPhone, and told The Telegraph:

“In essence, glasses haven’t changed all that much since they were first invented. The most recent development was transition lenses that tint in sunlight, but even that was 15 years ago…. Our glasses bring modern technology to an old solution.”

Perhaps Zieman doesn’t give other eye-wear inventors enough credit; for example, in 2008 a retired physics professor Josh Silver created a pair of fluid-filled spectacles that could change strength when the amount of liquid inside varied.

Still, as Star Trek fans might agree, electric eyeglasses really are more futuristic.

Related content:
DISCOVER: Not Your Father’s Bifocals
Discoblog: Cheap “Liquid Glasses” Bring Clear Vision to the Poor
Discoblog: Contacts Claim to Fix Your Vision While You Sleep
Discoblog: Will the Laptops of the Future Be a Pair of Eye Glasses?
Discoblog: Possible Cure For Blindness: Implanting a Telescope in Your Eye

Image: flickr / Franklin College

  • JMW

    Okay, since we’re talking about Geordi…it won’t be long, I imagine, before they’re able to focus these e-focals for telescopic or microscopic vision.

  • Joseph Calamia

    JMW, That would be cool. Speaking of electric eyeglasses, I’m interested to see when augmented reality glasses or even contact lenses will appear: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/discoblog/2008/01/22/one-small-step-closer-to-superhuman-cyborg-vision/

  • Georg

    most recent development was transition lenses that tint in sunlight, but even that was 15 years ago…

    That was done much longer ago, I think as early as sixties.
    But, with “sales” analphbets, such nonsense is common.
    Georg

  • steinmentz1

    Autofocus eyeglasses? I could go for that! I have a set of ‘Photogrey’ glasses from the late 60s and I still use them. We now have ‘Transparent Alumina’ (Metalic Ceramic) that can be used as sun glasses. Remember the movie ‘Startreck the voyage home’. Save the Whales! Transparent Alumina was patented around 1983 and is up to 5X stronger than steel.

  • http://www.vuedailleurs.fr Wrobliski@gmail.com

    After read your article, I would know if someone know good blog that speak about Techno or fashion ?

  • grabbis

    Electronic eyeglasses offered in one round shape at over $1,000. I would rather get nice fashion frames frome Luxottica frames.com. And change my look like changing clothing styles.

  • jonthn

    i think my glasses are ekectric how can you tell. i think the phone and the computer can charge them up.

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