Glasses of the Future Are Just...Glasses

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Never mind computer equipped "glasses" like Google Glass; actual glasses—the ones with lenses meant for aiding one's ability to see—have undergone some technological enhancements, the result of which proves that the hundreds of years-old technology is still pretty great. The latest innovations, at least according to The New York Times's David Pogue, just look pretty goofy and not all that useful.

Eyewear maker Adlense has created an adjustable pair of glasses, which have protruding knobs filled with water that allow the wearer to set a custom-fit prescription. Pogue claims they have "distinct advantages," such as: different people can wear the same pair of glasses, or you can tweak them at different times of day, or restaurants might give them out to people who forgot their reading glasses. But, first you have to be okay with looking totally goofy. The pair Pogue is fiddling with above in that photo are the fashion option, named after John Lennon for their tiny circular lenses. The "Emergensee" looks like a pair of lab goggles.

But beyond the fashion part of things—which will keep people from buying something that they have to wear on their faces day after day—Adlense's offerings don't sound as advantageous as Pogue argues. Having your very own pair of glasses is worth it for most people, because what if you want to wear them and the other person has the Adlense? Maybe it's good for just keeping around the house—just in case, as a back-up. And, how often do people really need to adjust their prescriptions? 

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The other two inventions covered by Pogue don't sound all that promising either, at least not for most people. O2Amp's color-enhancing lenses do indeed sound impressive, but are mostly for medical professionals. "These glasses give doctors a 'clearer view of veins and vasculature, bruising, cyanosis, pallor, rashes, erythema, and other variations in blood O2 level, and concentration,' especially in bright light," writes Pogue. One of the pairs promises to correct for red-green color blindness, but did nothing for Pogue, who is color blind.

Finally, Pogue covers an iPad app for trying on sunglasses without having to go into a store and put them on your face, which looks useful. "Without question, the app represents the state of the art in virtual style shopping. It’s superb technology," he writes. But it isn't actually an improvement in eyewear: Despite the virtual fitting tool, the end result is just glasses. 

There are other innovations in the glasses world, beyond the ones Pogue outlines, but they all have to do with lens improvements, such as UV protection, screen compatibility, and that ever-annoying glare issue that never seems to go away. Glasses of the future, it seems, are just better glasses. 


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.