Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ben Franklin would be proud

Inventor, scientist, bon vivant, philosopher, statesman, and "First American", Benjamin Franklin, invented bifocals some 200 years ago. But, alas, times they are a' changing. Today's focus (no pun intended) on computers at work leaves many bifocal wearers feeling dizzy. It's difficult for them to see their monitors through the relatively small reading portion of their glasses. You'll recognize these people from the 85-degree angle of their heads as they peer down their noses at their screens. Scientists at the University of Arizona have come up with a prototype which promises to correct this problem. The rather bulky looking device pictured here replaces traditional lenses with a combination of glass and liquid crystal. In its resting, non-charged state, the lenses work to correct nearsightedness. When voltage is passed through the LCD layer, the lens adjusts itself to correct for farsightedness. The change takes just a second. The advantage here is being able to use the entire lens surface in either situation. The UA group is now trying to miniaturize the components so that they will be indistinguishable from regular glasses. There are also plans to incorporate infrared sensors to determine what the wearer is looking at and adjust the focal length accordingly - like the autofocus feature on most point-and-shoot cameras. DARPA is already interested in using this technology to give our soldiers "super vision". That would be real "point-and-shoot".

Eyeglasses switch focus in a flash | CNET News.com

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