Moving sidewalks. Check. Robot vacuum cleaners. Check. Talking alarm clocks. Check. Speedy push-button cooking. Check. Live video chats. Check. Personal jetpacks. Check. Flying cars. Check.
All of these futuristic conveniences were depicted in “The Jetsons” when it debuted 50 years ago. At that time they didn’t exist. Now they do.
What? Even the flying car? Yes, even the flying car, which exists as a hybrid car / airplane that’s about three years away from the market. Don’t believe me? Google it (after you’ve finished reading this article).
We still don’t have George Jetson’s nine-hour work week (sigh). And you’d pretty much have to go to an airport to ride on a moving sidewalk.
But all of these things have, in one way or another, come to pass, not to mention some little ol’ things “The Jetsons” didn’t foresee, such as the personal computer and the internet.
All of these devices have changed our lives for the better. (OK, maybe not the talking alarm clock.) But other inventions, such as Ottawa opticians, despite some improvements and refinements, have stubbornly remained pretty much the way they were in the 20th century.
That’s about to change, with new generations of eyeglasses being developed or currently available that provide these amazing functions:
Giving limited vision to the blind. Check. Correcting colorblindness. Check. Automatically changing the focus of your single-vision eyeglasses from distance to near. Check. Downloadable glasses made in a 3-D printer. Check. Eye exams done on your smartphone. Check.
Plus the biggest change of all, which has gotten the most ink: Google Glass, a pair of glasses that are not actually eyeglasses, but a computer that’s worn on your face, just like a pair of glasses.
You’ve doubtless heard about Google Glass, its innovations as well as its drawbacks. Even though it won’t be released for purchase to the general public until next year, it’s already getting some angry pushback from people disturbed by the invasion-of-privacy implications of Glass wearers being able surreptitiously to video-record or photograph them, who have coined the term “Glassholes.”
Google’s competitors, including Sony, Nokia, Microsoft and Apple, among others, are rushing to improve on a product that isn’t even available for purchase yet.
(Some software developers were allowed to buy and test prototype Google Glasses at $1,500 a pop.)
But other companies are creating specific-purpose computing eyewear. Recon Instruments, for example, is developing smart glasses for skiers, who will be able to see their speed, elevation and distance, among other data, right inside their ski goggles.
Another futuristic type of glasses is being developed by 2AI Labs. Their O2Amps are designed to detect changes in the blood flow to a person’s face. The blood flow indicates their emotional state, as well as possible bruising or other trauma below the skin.
Doctors and nurses would find this application useful, as would law-enforcement personnel, poker players and the spouse whose partner has come home suspiciously late.
However, none of these glasses are prescription eyeglasses that will correct or improve your vision. Google Glass and all of these other smart glasses will have to be worn over prescription eyeglasses or be configured to include the wearer’s prescription.
No, for innovations in prescription eyewear, the main focus, as it were, is on glasses that replace progressives or bifocals. Some people just can’t get used to having their distance and reading prescriptions (bifocals) or their distance, computer and reading prescriptions (progressives) in one lens.
These multifocal glasses will be right for them. They have lenses that go from distance to computer to reading vision all at the touch of a button, slider or dial, like the focus knob on a pair of binoculars.
Here’s how it works.
They outfit a pair of glasses with outer and inner lenses. The outer lens has distance vision, and the inner lens contains liquid. One company uses a slider on the bridge of the eyeglasses that activates the inner, liquid-containing lens.
By adjusting this slider, you can adjust the eyeglasses’ correction to the type of vision you need: distance, intermediate or near vision. It changes the shape of the lens not unlike the way a makeup or shaving mirror can be rotated for a magnified image.
Another company is also using two lenses per eye. But instead of a slider, it is embedding a processor chip in the glasses to change the focus automatically when the wearer’s head tilts, or when the wearer touches a button on the frame.
Wanna save money and share your glasses with your mate? With these glasses, eyeglasses wearers can program two different prescriptions, so a family member can wear them when the other person is asleep or wearing a different pair of glasses.