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Move Over Smart Glasses – These Sunglasses Are Smarter

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Smart glasses icon or logo – vector black thin line symbol

While a couple of tech companies are competing to see which one can be the first to bring a viable pair of smart glasses to market, a young man in Norway came up with a surprisingly low-tech pair of sunglasses that beats anything Google or Apple might be working on. They may have their smart wearables, but he’s got a pair of sunglasses that automatically deploy and retract as needed.

Before getting to the explanation, consider this: you are driving through a mountain pass that has you moving through alternating patches of bright sunshine and deep gloom. If you are wearing a typical pair of shades, you’re putting them on and taking them off every few minutes. That’s annoying. If you are wearing prescription glasses with photosensitive lenses, you soon discover that it takes too long for the glasses to adapt.

Nearly all of us have experienced something similar, if not so drastic. Having to constantly put on and remove sunglasses or wait for photosensitive lenses to adapt can be a real pain in the backside. So a young Norwegian man who goes by the name Andreas created his own sunglasses that take the hassle out of wearing shades under different light conditions.

How It All Works

Andreas took a pair of clear lens glasses (it is unclear if they were prescription lenses or not) and fitted them with a couple of servos and a light sensor. He then took a pair of sunglasses and remove the arms and bridge. The lenses were then attached to the servos to flip up or down based on the amount of light picked up by the sensor.

The sunglasses look pretty large and unwieldy, but that’s only because Andreas built them with spare parts he had lying around. They could be made a lot smaller and less cumbersome with a little more design thought and the right parts. His project was to simply prove that it could be done.

Andreas demonstrated his glasses by recording a video of himself driving in a scenario similar to what was described in the introduction to this article. You can see the sunglasses flip up and down almost instantly when the light level changes. With every flip, Andreas gets a bit of a smile on his face. And why not? The idea is genius.

Commercial Production Unlikely

So will Andreas’ idea ever make it to market? Probably not. While the glasses certainly are novel and quite entertaining, there really isn’t enough demand for instant lens changes to warrant mass production. What his project does show is the reality that there is room for improvement in the modern eyewear industry.

Utah-based Olympic Eyewear points out that there is a big difference between what Andreas came up with and the projects those previously mentioned tech companies are working on. Andreas improved a product already used on a daily basis by people around the world. The tech companies are trying to take a simple device like a pair of glasses and transform it into something completely different – a wearable computer.

Where a pair of automatically deploying sunglasses does have practical applications, a wearable computer is not so practical. In fact, Google found that out when bars and restaurants started banning Google testers from wearing their high-tech glasses on their premises. Their wearable computers created all sorts of questions about privacy and security.

Truly smart eyewear is eyewear that has been improved to meet a legitimate need. Trying to adapt a pair of glasses to make them something they are not doesn’t seem so smart in the end.