INVISION TunableGlassesUniversity of Utah electrical and computer engineering professor Carlos Mastrangelo, right, and doctoral student Nazmul Hasan have created “smart glasses” with liquid-based lenses. Photo credit: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering.The lenses are liquid-based.

Researchers at the University of Utah have created eyeglasses with liquid-based lenses that adjust their focus automatically to what the wearer is seeing.

And it's possible that with the glasses, "The days of wearing bifocals or constantly swapping out reading glasses might soon come to an end," according to the university.

The adaptive lenses were developed by a team led by electrical and computer engineering professor Carlos Mastrangelo and doctoral student Nazmul Hasan.

“Most people who get reading glasses have to put them on and take them off all the time,” says Mastrangelo, who also is a professor for USTAR, the Utah Science Technology and Research economic development initiative. “You don’t have to do that anymore. You put these on, and it’s always clear.”

The lenses are made of glycerin, a thick, colorless liquid enclosed by flexible rubber-like membranes in the front and back, the university explains in a news release. The rear membrane in each lens is connected to a series of three mechanical actuators that push the membrane back and forth like a transparent piston, changing the curvature of the liquid lens and therefore the focal length between the lens and the eye.

The lenses are placed in special frames also invented by Mastrangelo, Hasan and other members of the research group with electronics and a battery to control and power the actuators.

Before putting them on for the first time, users input their eyeglasses prescription into an accompanying smartphone app, which then calibrates the lenses automatically.

The team has built a bulky working prototype that was displayed last month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Mastrangelo said a lighter, more attractive pair could hit the market in as little as three years.

A startup company, Sharpeyes LLC, has been created to commercialize the glasses.

Research on the glasses was published recently in the journal Optics Express. View the full paper here.

Read more from the University of Utah

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