Electronic sunglasses

Computers & Mobile Craft & Design
Electronic sunglasses


Inventor Chris Mullin constructed these electronic sunglasses, which detect bright objects in your view and selectively darken them by turning on part of an LCD screen. He got the idea while commuting to a job that required him to drive towards the sun. The project is still in prototype phase, but he has a kickstarter set up to raise money to bring them into production.

I’ve been wanting something like this for my camera lens, but never thought about putting it on a pair of glasses. Great idea! [via Yanko Design]

30 thoughts on “Electronic sunglasses

  1. Dave says:

    Confer: http://xkcd.com/827/

    For probably 20 years, I’ve been “designing” these in my head! An ideal implementation would be directly in the car windows, using face/eye detection and 3D positioning in the infrared, but this is a huge step forward…


  2. Viadd says:

    I first read this idea in a Larry Niven story a few decades ago.

    One problem is that the device has to know how far the LCD is from the pupil and in which direction. So it will have to be well-calibrated to the individual user.

    1. Dave says:

      Gaahh! I know I’m getting old, now!
      You’re right of course; this was a feature of a General Products hull, if I recall. And that means I was thinking about it well before then, because I had the same feeling of familiarity when I read it.

      WRT the one problem:
      More than that, the glasses need to “know” the precise location of the center of the pupil – even as it moves around, independently of the user’s head (and glasses.)
      It also needs to recognize more than one glare source (and the video suggests that’s already in place!)
      A secondary bit of knowledge should be the diameter (and even shape) of the pupil.
      Then an on-the-fly raytrace to compute the envelope of the ray cone from the perimeter of each glare ‘blob’ (they’re not point sources) through the perimeter of the pupil and the cone’s intersection with the (complexly curved) lens surface. And of course, do it all twice…

      I am anxiously awaiting progress!


  3. whitcwa3579545 says:

    I also have thought about how to make tracking sunglasses. A camera which looks at the retina could quickly determine which pixels in the glasses need to be darkened.

    Much easier to build would be goggles with stereo high def cameras and stereo displays. Think night vision goggles, only for daytime and nighttime.

  4. cbrink says:

    Are they peril sensitive?

    1. Dave says:

      To everything but gravity, right?

  5. Spades says:

    I could imagine this might be interesting for welding applications as an improvement to the existing welding helmets.


    1. rdarlington.myopenid.com says:

      You definitely don’t want something this small from welding. Arc flash will leave you “sun burned” except where the glasses cover your face.

      I too would like to see something like this in cars built into the windshield. You could use an eye tracking camera to sense where eyes are to selectively darken where headlights from on-coming traffic might be, the sun, etc. VERY cool!

      1. Dave says:

        No, of course these glasses wouldn’t be adequate for welding.
        But the same technology, applied to the welding filter, would return the benefit of selective darkening, leaving the main field bright enough to see clearly.
        Now, there would still be areas of your face exposed where the line of sight from the arc to the skin doesn’t pass through the dense spot, even though inside the mask. Perhaps a lower density level over all, with lots of UV filtering, would alleviate that effect.


      2. Spades says:

        I’m not talking about the glasses but the technology applied to a welding helmet/shield. Selective darkening instead of blackening the glass window entirely.

        But maybe whitcwa3579545’s idea would be even better for that. More or less an opto-isolator for your eyes. Even if the technology fails it won’t be dangerous since a LCD screen can’t blind you.

  6. vrandy.myopenid.com says:

    I’m not even sure we need something this complicated!

    Photochromic “Transitions” glasses are great, but they’re too slow for many situations. I’d pay a lot for a pair glasses that will turn into sunglasses at the touch of a button, and then back into normal glasses at another touch of a button.

  7. R3becca says:

    Think of the potential applications for this technology:

    * Variable darkness sunglasses.
    * Remove direct sun glare.
    * Remove reflected sun glare.
    * Remove the glare of oncoming headlights while night driving.
    * Doubles as 3D video glasses.
    * Preserve night vision while doing astronomy.
    * Visual field protection for photosensitive epileptics.
    * Protect your eyes from ‘dazzler’ type optical weapons.
    * An Immersion mode that blocks everything but the TV/screen you are viewing, for watching a movie or using a computer in a distracting environment.

    Chris already has an impressive prototype, I’ll be watching this project with great interest, this is the future of sunglasses.
    PLUS: For only 400USD, you will (eventually) own one of the first production units.

  8. sunglasses says:

    Nice blog and the content is rich.It has something different and I like it because this blog update me according to the new fashion style,I think these sunglasses are pretty cool and it will suit on my personality.
    Thanks for this idea,And I’ll wait for the next update.

  9. designer sunglasses says:

    Are you copping the comments…. :P

  10. designer sunglasses says:

    Are you copping the comments…. :P

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