Do you hate when you have your gadgets close to you and you have to take off your glasses to read the screen? PixelOptics previewed their emPower! electronic eyeglasses during CES which allows the wearer to replace the idea of bifocals with lenses having a LCD-like layer that when powered switches to near-distance viewing. The emPower! eyeglasses incorporate microchips, micro-machine accelerometers and miniature rechargeable batteries all in a standard looking frame. The wearer can utilize the near distance viewing feature in automatic mode which detects a downward looking movement as well as a manual mode which requires a light swipe on the side of the frame to toggle the LCD-like layer. This layer is built to change its molecular structure when power is applied to activate the near focus lens on demand. The battery life is expected to last at least two days, but if the battery is drained the lenses default to a standard far distance lens. emPower! will be available in April of this year retailing for an estimated $1200 for a complete kit, excluding the trip to the optometrist to get your prescription.
While PixelOptics is just beginning to get the first generation of emPower! out to the public, this seems to open the door to many opportunities in eyeglasses beyond the most common and practical use of replacing bifocal lenses. Perhaps next we could see lenses that with a swipe can use the technology to magnify our vision on demand or perhaps even send more complicated signals to the LCD-like layer that overlay information about the world we are viewing. We will keep our eyes on this to see where it goes next!