Technology’s Influence on Sunglasses
When we think about sunglasses, technology is probably not the first word that springs to mind. We associate sunglasses with style, with fashion, with celebrities; our primary interest is in the frame design and how cool we will look when we wear them, but that is changing. Every starlet's favourite fashion accessory is rapidly becoming an essential health accessory, like the seat belt or crash hat. An increasing awareness of the damaging potential of UV rays has led to a new generation of discerning sunglass buyers. The global sunglasses market, currently worth about $15 billion USD, is set to increase relentlessly and in a crowded marketplace the big players are already investing heavily in new tech.
The option to personalise your purchase is the USP of a growing number of manufactures across the globe and sunglasses are no exception. Competitors promote their new high-tech lenses as they compete to produce the most durable lenses with the greatest clarity. Polarized lenses, which reduce glare, have been with us for a while, as have polychromatic lenses, which darken in response to UV light. The new kid on the block is the blue lens which combats the digital eye strain that we get from the blue light of our computers, tablets, smartphones and televisions.
In the world of sunglasses, classic frame designs are subject to endless tweaking and revision. Market leader Ray-Ban offer an adaptation of their iconic Wayfarer glasses, the Wayfarer Light-Ray, described as thin, resistant and without screws or welding on the hinges. Millennials are much more inquiring about the origins of their purchase than previous consumers and increasingly they are opting for a recycled or eco-friendly choice. Should you wish, you can buy sunglasses with wooden frames, sunglasses made from recycled acetate and metal, and sunglasses made from a 'zero oil' wood pulp acetate, which will biodegrade in soil in 115 days.
Google Glass was never going to be stylish, but that technology has paved the way for a new generation of smart sunglasses, at a glance, barely discernible from their conventional cousins. Bose have released AR sunglasses that feature tiny speakers and motion sensors in the temples, and which hook up to Google/Siri to provide audio AR. Acknowledged market leaders though are the Vuzix Blades. These AR sunglasses incorporate an 8mp front facing camera and a microphone that enables you to issue commands to Amazon/Alexa. The glasses use see through optics to project a full color display within the front of the lenses. You can also pair this gadget with your smartphone to make calls, answer texts and see projected notifications. As you might imagine, there is a whole host of apps for this app hungry technology in development.
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