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Smart Sunglasses 194

"Many readers have submitted this story of chemists at the University of Washington who have made glasses with lenses that can be transparent or dark, in shades of yellow, green, or purple, all at the push of a button. The glasses will let the wearer instantly change the color of their lenses to virtually any hue by tuning a tiny electronic knob in the frame."
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Smart Sunglasses

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  • by Blue Shifted ( 1078715 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @11:17PM (#18524275) Journal
    i frequently use polarized glasses to examine lcd screens for defects; it would be nice to change the angle of polarization without having to tilt my head at odd angles. also, when i change the angle, i can see through many different reflections.
    • by wass ( 72082 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @11:35PM (#18524417)
      If you're doing this often enough, as you say, why don't you buy a linear polarizer? Here [] is a relatively cheap one. Much better ones can be had for more money. You can also use circular polarizing films to block reflected glares.
    • Photocromatic glass (Score:4, Informative)

      by baomike ( 143457 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @12:41AM (#18524769)
      Really cool glasses do it without being told. Like mine have for the last 40 years.
      Only one colour , true, but "look ma , no hands".
      • My dad had these too. He said they could be annoying in summer going from the bright sun to a dark room since it took awhile for the glasses to adjust from dark to light.
        • by Fred Ferrigno ( 122319 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @01:59AM (#18525145)
          I have them now. The practical effect is that my brain and eyes actually adjust to the glasses faster than the glasses adjust to the environment. I'm never really conscious of whether the glasses are light or dark. It's weird because every now and again someone asks me why I'm wearing sunglasses and I have no idea what they're talking about.
      • And the other important feature: "Look ma, no batteries". Because, as you all know, the batteries will die on the most sunny day of the year.
      • Until you get into your car on a bright sunny day and it's "Look ma, no tint"........
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by GigG ( 887839 )
        There are two problems with the current photochromatic sunglasses. First they are sensitive to only UV. If you are in a car built in the last 20 years they do not get near as dark as they would outside because the cars class is filtering a bunch of the UV. Also they are very temperature sensitive. They work better when it is cold. Which is the exact opposite of when most people need sunglasses. I used to wear them and played gold on some very clear days in the winter and you could have used them for weldin
        • Speaking of welding there are welding shields with LCD to darken the window and I always thought that this technology if made smaller and lighter would be perfect for sunglasses.

          I have one of these and it's awesome for MIG welding or any kind of electric welding where you may accidentally strike an arc from time to time, as well as the convenience aspect of not having to flip it up and down as you move from weld to weld. The interesting thing is that LCD's require an AC waveform to go dark. The little solar

    • Interesting... I do the reverse. When buying new polarized glasses, I use an lcd screen to detect defects in the glass polarization. In my experience, that's the more likely point of failure. Also, shouldn't you be able to see polarization problems in the LCD unaided? It has multiple polarization elements, so if there's a misalignment of some sort, it should be visible to the naked eye.
    • Go to a camera store and ask to see a polarizing lens adapter. They're meant to screw on to the end of a 35mm camera lens. The filters themselves are in the 50-60mm diameter range. There's a fixed part, and a part that turns; the polarizing lens is attached to the part that turns. You're a geek, make some glasses with them, or glue them to some safety goggles.
      • by Hijacked Public ( 999535 ) * on Thursday March 29, 2007 @08:50AM (#18526933)
        The ones you describe are called "Circular Polarizers" or CPLs. Most decent camera stores will also have linear ones but those require the kind of head movement that some poeple seem to want to avoid. I suggest asking for the Kasemann type of CPL because they last longer.

        As an aside, some people less familiar with technology think that CPLs are voodoo magic. Show them that their reflections in a window appear and disappear as they rotate the glass and their reactions can be pretty interesting. Children will usually stuff the CPL into their pocket and run away. Some adults will stand there and play with it for hours while others will drop it and threaten to kill you. You never know what you are going to get.
    • i frequently use polarized glasses to examine lcd screens for defects

      Forgive the OT, but I just have to ask:
      Is this your job, or do you just hang out at the Best Buy?
  • Are they... (Score:5, Funny)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) * on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @11:18PM (#18524283)
    Peril sensitive? Zaphod needs 2 pairs.
  • by Reed Solomon ( 897367 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @11:21PM (#18524315) Homepage
    What is this, 60's Star Trek? I want it to respond to my thoughts or at least memorize my preferences somehow. Buttons and Knobs. Really.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by FMota91 ( 1050752 )
      this->give(Phrase("cute as a button"), 1.0, new Meaning());
    • Star Trek sunglasses, let me see. Is this the 'dim' button or the 'phaser' button? I can't remember. Have to try one of them. - Click - ARGGGGHHHHHH! ARGGGGHH!!! I - just - phasered - my - eyeballs!! Help me, Spock!!!! (whimper)

      Next time I'll -- have one of the -- redshirts -- try these first. Kirk out.

    • by inKubus ( 199753 )
      What's an "electronic knob" anyway?
  • Button-pushing is for weenies. Glasses that go black all by themselves at the first sign of danger--that's where it's at!
  • No rose? (Score:5, Funny)

    by the_bard17 ( 626642 ) <> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @11:23PM (#18524333)
    Only yellow, green, or purple? No rose colored glasses?

    I wouldn't have been able to resist the temptation to add it, myself... assuming it was possible.
    • Re:No rose? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by beav007 ( 746004 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @01:35AM (#18525035) Journal
      Only yellow, green, or purple? No rose colored glasses? FTA:

      Chemists at the University of Washington in Seattle say they are developing 'smart' sunglasses that will let the wearer instantly change the color of their lenses to virtually any hue of the rainbow. So, whether you like your lenses clear, red, green, blue or purple, virtually any color could be obtained instantly by tuning a tiny electronic knob in the frame, the researchers said in a release.
      Unlike you, I read [part of] TA. I must be new here...
  • Motorcycles (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LBt1st ( 709520 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @11:24PM (#18524339)
    I would buy these in an instant! I commute on a motorcycle and often times I leave in the morning. Unless it's cloudy i have to put on my sunglasses before the sun is even up. Then I ride north with darkened vision. But I have no choice because later I have to ride into the sun as it's rising. Impossible to safely do without the shades. Wearing a helmet, even with a flip up face-mask, it takes too long (and again, is unsafe) to fumble with putting on shades while on the bike. With these, I could easily turn a knob while at a traffic light. I just hope they put the knob where I can get to with with the helmet on, and while wearing gloves. Hell if they just made helmet visors that'd be even better!
    • Re:Motorcycles (Score:5, Interesting)

      by skiflyer ( 716312 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @11:45PM (#18524485)
      If your visor isn't UV protected you can already do this today with Transitions... [] , they have several models for different usages (different starting tints basically)... but they're UV activated, so they kinda suck for their most obvious usage, driving. I hear their newer model "drivers" are supposed to be better for that... don't get me wrong, the old ones worked in a car, just not as well as they work out in the open air.
    • I too commute by motorcycle, and look forward to the day I can get a transition visor (that tints based on level of UV it's being exposed to). My glasses have it, but I'm not sure if they can do it with safety plastic used on helmet visors.
    • Re:Motorcycles (Score:5, Informative)

      by lisaparratt ( 752068 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @03:18AM (#18525541)
      The Schuberth Concept and C2 range have a secondary inner sun visor that you can flip down with a slider on the outside of the helmet: [] []

      They're awesome - I've had my Concept about 4.5 years, and I'm definitely getting another when I replace it this summer.
      • by BVis ( 267028 )
        This is way, way OT, but you're aware that most helmets are made of plastics that lose their energy-absorbing properties after 3 years or so? Glad to hear you're replacing it this summer, but this might be useful for next time.
    • Me too. Although in my case I often do the more poetic riding into the sunset.... :-)

      BTW, have you ever tried using polarized sunglasses? All plexiglass parts in your line of sight (visor, windscreen) cause quite a psychedelic effect on the scene you see. Funny for a minute or so, and NOT recommended in traffic.

    • I would buy these in an instant! I commute on a motorcycle and often times I leave in the morning. Unless it's cloudy i have to put on my sunglasses before the sun is even up. Then I ride north with darkened vision. But I have no choice because later I have to ride into the sun as it's rising. Impossible to safely do without the shades.

      I am a bicycle commuter and I have similar issues. I wish I had a good suggestion to make but I did have one thought.

      A digital still camera, with a monitor on the back migh

    • Your supposed to stop and then put on or take off your sunglasses.

      You are risking the lives of others because your too fucking lazy.

      And people on motorcycles complain about other people. shit.

      OTOH, I look forward to reading about you at the Darwin awards.

  • by cyphercell ( 843398 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @11:26PM (#18524353) Homepage Journal
    If you can they might compete with psychedelic drugs.
  • Nice! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dr. Eggman ( 932300 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @11:27PM (#18524357)
    But I'd rather have contact lens that change colors everytime I blink. It'd look really cool, but it'd probably be real distracting to people and retnal scans.
    • people maybe, retina's are in the back of the eye... retinal scans better not get confused by a colored contact.
    • I'd rather have contact lens that change colors everytime I blink

      The battery might be a bit bukly on your cornea. I'll waiting for mirrored contacts...

  • Here are the glasses (Score:5, Informative)

    by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @11:29PM (#18524379)
    There we go [], on top.

    With glasses like those, you can be the hit of every nerd party, I can hardly wait.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by pete-classic ( 75983 )
      The article you link to doesn't mention the powerful contraceptive effect of these glasses.

      • by treeves ( 963993 )
        When I was in Navy boot camp in 1986, every recruit who needed glasses got issued a pair of dorky looking black-plastic-framed glasses we called "BC glasses" - what "BC" stood for is left as an exercise for the reader. I'll tell you though, these color-changing glasses are cooler than those were. Even if they have a cheap SPST button switch on the side and are basically a pair of cheap safety glasses with some interesting liquid crystal thingumajiggies in 'em. Of course they probably can't correct your visi
  • Perfect! (Score:4, Funny)

    by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @11:37PM (#18524435)
    These will be great for when I'm driving my flying car.
  • The glasses will let the wearer instantly change the color of their lenses to virtually any hue by tuning a tiny electronic knob in the frame.

    I don't want to have to turn a tiny electronic knob. I don't even know what makes some knobs electronic, rather than the old kind of knob. What I want are sunglasses smart enough to turn their own knobs and automatically adjust the the ambient light conditions properly. Now those would be smart!

    And if a Vorlon comes along, just turn black.

  • Smart.....? (Score:5, Funny)

    by IHC Navistar ( 967161 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @12:16AM (#18524641)
    The only truly smart sunglasses will be able to skitter off of my seat before I sit down on them. That, and when to fold in poker.
    • by demi ( 17616 )

      The only truly smart sunglasses will be able to skitter off of my seat before I sit down on them

      I really, really need sunglasses that follow me the hell around. I don't know how many sunglasses I've left at restaurants, on trains, or, as far as I can tell, just jumping off my head when I wasn't paying attention.

  • by straponego ( 521991 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @12:18AM (#18524657)
    I want mirrored contacts. When somebody takes a flash photo of me it'll look like my head is exploding. Don't ask why I want that, I just... do.
  • Colorblindness aid? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ereshiere ( 945922 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @12:38AM (#18524767)
    I've got red-green colorblindness (green traffic lights look white, reds look darker than other colors, brown looks like both green and red, etc.). Will this help people like me in any way?
    • by TheThiefMaster ( 992038 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @07:42AM (#18526573)
      Out of interest, are the pictures on the Wikipedia colour-blindness page accurate? They are supposed to show what the "colours of the rainbow" look like to a colour-blind person, but in theory if a colour-blind person looks at them then they shouldn't be able to tell the difference between the "normal" picture and one of the artificial colour-blindness ones. cation_of_color_deficiencies []
      • by Dragonslicer ( 991472 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @09:08AM (#18527073)
        I'm red-green colorblind, and I can tell the difference between those images. The colors in the second one look lighter and faded compared to the first one. Here [] is a page that has the Ishihara test patterns. Here [] is another page that has more detailed information. As a point of comparison, the two pictures of flowers about half way down the page (subtitled "red-insensitive dichromat") look very nearly identical to me.
        • Interestingly when I glanced at the picture at the bottom of the first link I saw an 8. After reading the blurb I looked back at it properly and saw that I'd actually seen both the 2 and the 5 overlapped. I don't know how, as the numbers are both drawn in a different way (the 5 is a different colour to the background and the 2 is lighter than the background).

          The pictures of the flowers are great though, much better than the pictures on Wikipedia. They really make me understand how the world looks to a colou
          • For moderate red-green color blindness like I have, it's not really a major problem. I can tell the difference between red and green traffic lights (green actually looks like very pale, almost white), though sometimes I have some trouble with the red and yellow lights. I actually don't even think about seeing anything color, since I've never been able to correctly identify most colors anyway. People will say to me "See that blue thing over there?", and I'll just give them a blank stare in return.

            • For people who just have weak perception of a colour (a reduced number of cells of that type instead of having their cells for that colour missing or with a shifted frequency response) then using coloured contacts sounds like an effective way to force the eye/brain into increasing it's sensitivity towards that colour and correcting the problem.
    • I don't think so. With these glasses you're just filtering out certain frequencies. What you would need to help colourblind people would be glasses that can frequency-shift incoming information. That is doable, but currently the rigs to do this (IR goggles) are quite bulky, and monochromatic.
  • ...all at the push of a button. The glasses will let the wearer instantly change the color of their lenses to virtually any hue by tuning a tiny electronic knob in the frame.

    well? are we pushing a button or turning a knob? Make up your mind, people!
  • by SpaghettiPattern ( 609814 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @01:06AM (#18524889)
    Berkeley did similar work back in the 70-ies. Letting people see all kinds of colors. While hacking BSD.
  • by ResidntGeek ( 772730 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @01:06AM (#18524891) Journal
    With inventions like this, does anyone wonder why the world is dying of pollution? Do we really need electricity running our sunglasses, simply for the dubious pleasure of changing the color a few times before getting bored with it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by x2A ( 858210 )
      These are new... I hardly think you can say they're responsible for killing the entire world with pollution.

      And btw, you're using far more energy reading and posting on slashdot. Look to your own habits before complaining about others.

    • These have great uses. Ever been skiing/snowboarding all day? That transition from day skiing to night can be a bitch. It'd also be nice to only have to deal with one pair of glasses at 24 hour mountain bike races. That dawn lap transition can suck if you come out of the woods facing east. Same goes for sunset and transition to using your lights. Clear at night. Yellow in the woods. On the snowboard go between dark during the day to rose/yellow when the light is flat, and then to clear.
  • The video just shows them changing from blue to clear...just like any old...that was a lame episode of lost...calculator. I hope it's cooler.
  • Many readers have submitted this story of chemists. . .

    And if they'd read the info at the UW website they'd see that she's in the Mechanical Engineering Dept. not Chemistry. Still, she is doing stuff with chemistry so I guess "chemist" isn't totally wrong.

    • Yes, chemists. Digging deeper into the UW website though you'll find this: "CIMS researchers have a broad background covering mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, polymer chemistry, materials science, bioengineering, and biology." And Chunye Xu is a chemical engineer by training.
  • Finally (Score:2, Funny)

    by gnork ( 827840 )
    W00t, we have sunglasses that _can_ turn dark in case of extreme danger.
  • Old news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by holy_calamity ( 872269 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @05:43AM (#18526119)
    Electrochromics have been figured out for a long time. You can already buy rear view mirrors for cars [] and a motorcycle helmet with an electrochromic visor [] has been around since 2003. Nothing to see here.
  • Once they introduce a version that can be added as a coating to regular glasses, that is. It's got to be better than using clip-ons.
  • by AragornSonOfArathorn ( 454526 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @09:01AM (#18527035)
    ...designed for adventurers. The lenses turn blue when orcs are near.
  • Bah, only 1-1 pixel resolution, I'll wait until higher resolutions become available. Also, only a one/two second refresh rate? Who are they kidding? Dial knob? Don't they know that small push buttons are all the hype at the moment?
  • I know some people who have glasses with a coating that reacts to the amount of light. Even indoors, those glasses are always slightly tinted (maybe 10%). You probably get used to that, but it seems to me that sometimes that 10% is too much. This electrochromatic coating better be completely transparent.

    Oh, and what about failure modes? If the battery dies, will the glasses go dark or transparent?

COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray