PixelOptics makes what it calls the world’s first and only electronic-focusing eyeware, dubbed emPower. It essentially creates the effect of bifocals without forcing you to look through two different lenses.
The Roanoke, Va.-based company showed off the technology at the Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas, where it announced the national availability of the product for the first time.
It’s a clever use of technology to address a problem that millions of people have: they could use bifocals, but consider them inconvenient.
Bifocals are built with two lenses, but the problem is the reading portion of the glasses is always there, whether you need them or not. If you are not reading and you look down through the bottom part of the lens, you see distortion.
With PixelOptics’ emPower, you tap the side of the glasses when you want to read something. That turns on or off the liquid crystals embedded in the lens. And when you want to look at things that are farther away, you can tap the glasses again. You can also set the glasses to do this automatically. The glasses have built-in accelerometers that can sense when you are looking down at something such as a book, and can switch the lenses.
The glasses have no moving parts, and users can change the prescription in the glasses at the blink of an eye. PixelOptics has more than 300 patents.
The company has been making the lens technology for 10 years and launched in August 2011. Now, 1,500 retailers are selling them for about $1,200. In the second quarter, the company will launch in Europe. PixelOptics has trained more than 4,000 eye care professionals on how to sell emPower.
Check out our video interview with Mark from PixelOptics below, filmed at the Digital Experience Party.
For more news out of this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, be sure to check out VentureBeat’s live coverage from CES 2012.