Finally! Smart Prescription Glasses That Adjust To Your Vision Automatically

By Viswa Teja on March 21, 2017

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Early prototype of “smart glasses” (Photo Credit: Carlos Mastrangelo)

As most people age, the crystalline lenses in their eyes start to stiffen and are unable to change shape as easily. As a result, objects in close range start to look blurry, forcing many middle-aged adults to carry reading glasses either around their necks or tucked away in a handbag. Those already suffering from nearsightedness, or myopia, a condition where distant objects appear blurry, have to depend on bifocals or, even worse, switch between two pairs of glasses. However, thanks to some Utah researchers, there may finally be a solution — self-adjusting “smart” glasses.

The team, led by electrical and computer engineering professor Carlos Mastrangelo and doctoral student Nazmul Hasan, took an entirely new approach to eyeglass lenses. Instead of using glass or plastic, they tried to mimic the eye lens by enclosing glycerin, a thick colorless liquid, inside two flexible rubber-like membranes. Three mechanical actuators attached to the rear membrane help move it back and forth. As the membrane moves, it changes the curvature of the liquid lens, altering the focal length, or distance, between the lens and the eye. The lenses are housed inside a special eyeglass frame containing electronics and a rechargeable battery to control and power the actuators.

Image Credit: Ivo.gr

When a wearer looks at an object, a meter embedded in the frame’s bridge instantly measures the distance from the eye and transmits the information to the actuators, which curve the lenses the appropriate amount. The lenses can change focus from one object to another within 14 milliseconds, which means that the wearer can see everything, near and far, clearly. Similar to other smart devices, the batteries that operate the actuators do need to be charged. But given that they can last up to 24 hours, it is not a significant inconvenience.

Before wearing the glasses, the user has to input his/her eyeglass prescription using a unique smartphone app. The information, conveyed via a Bluetooth connection, automatically calibrates the lenses. Should the prescription change, it can be instantly updated. This means one pair of these smart glasses could last a lifetime!

Closeup of a liquid-based lense that can automatically adjust the focus on what a person is seeing. (Photo Credit: Carlos Mastrangelo)

However, the researchers, who unveiled the prototype at the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas in January 2017, realize that the smart glasses are not very marketable in their current cumbersome state. Mastrangelo, who has set up Sharpeyes LLC to produce the glasses, expects a lighter, more attractive version to be available within three years.

Resources: phys.org, smithsonianmag.org, unews.utah.edu.

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actuatorsappropriatebifocalsblurrycalibratesconveyedcrystallinecumbersomeembeddedflexibleinconveniencemembranemimicmyopiaprescriptionprototypestiffen
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Article Comprehension (10 questions)

  1. Why are many middle-aged people unable to see nearby objects clearly?
  2. What do those already suffering from nearsightedness have to wear to see clearly?

Critical Thinking Challenge

What style changes would you suggest to the glass creators?

Vocabulary in Context

“The information, conveyed via a Bluetooth connection, automatically calibrates the lenses.”

In the above sentence, the word conveyed most likely means:

(a) to...

365 Comments
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  • candydandy2006
    candydandy2006Monday, April 24, 2017 at 7:41 am
    HOW NICE!!!!
    • hiFriday, April 21, 2017 at 6:39 am
      cool
      • MambaThursday, April 20, 2017 at 11:15 am
        Those are so big!!!!!!
        • WAT MANWednesday, April 19, 2017 at 12:48 pm
          These be cartoon glasses and how would you carry dees? they probs wiegh like 20 pounds
          • NKMKJYTTuesday, April 18, 2017 at 11:42 am
            I WOULD USE THEM IF I NEEDED GLASSES
            • iamtherealthing
              iamtherealthingFriday, April 14, 2017 at 11:55 am
              Yeah I mean I already wear glasses to see the board,so I know what that is like but ,I mean glasses that can do that sound pretty cool!
              • blindsay1
                blindsay1Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 10:42 am
                wow. I woder what it would be like to wear those.
                • Taco.CatThursday, April 13, 2017 at 9:31 am
                  Wouldn't you get tired of wearing those because they look huge and wouldn't those look weird on someone
                  • Kamara scottThursday, April 13, 2017 at 8:39 am
                    thaks for finding a cure because my mom wears glasses
                    • zackWednesday, April 12, 2017 at 11:03 am
                      incredible

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