Glasses are basically made for vision correction or eye protection. But there is just much more to it. Glasses are no longer just glasses – and materials and technology play a huge role in this.
Of course glasses satisfy our needs to get a better vision and also protects us from damaging ray of lights – but to a great extend they also satisfy our wants. It is now important for us what we wear, how it looks, what story it tells, what image it gives us, if it is sustainable – and what the item is capable of…
In the following I have worked my way around some examples of glasses of today.
1. From fish to eyewear
The fishing industry generates several circumstances where many tons of fish scales are leftover. Using this waste as resources for the production of his fish-scale-plastic, Royal College of Art graduate Erik De Laurens has made swimming goggles and spectacles simply out of fish scales.
The scales get cleaned, dried and died and after this, processed – this step requires heat and pressure. During that process the fish scales release their own binding agent which when dried makes the material very hard.
de Laurens on the material: “The definition of plastic is quite blur and wide. A plastic is a material which can be molded under pressure and heat. In that sense my fish scale plastic is a plastic since I can mould it. Yet it is not a plastic in the sense that it is not a polymer. But polymer are nowadays made from oil which is the cause for a lot of pollution, the material I invented is made from by-product of the fishing industry which make it highly sustainable, Yet it has the appearance of an early bakelite or marble. Moreover, it is biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable. It has no added compound, no resin no added glue.”
2. Wood just never goes out of fashion
There is not much material innovation in these following glasses – it is more or less ‘just’ going back to one of the basic materials on this earth – WOOD. Nevertheless, wearing these pleases our wants and says a lot about who we are. Save the world and look good doing it !
Based in Northern California Woodzee makes handmade sunglasses and adds that personal touch that just can’t be found in your typical factory made sunglasses. As a bonus they plant a tree for every pair of glasses sold.
With frames constructed from either dark wood, zebra wood, pear wood or bamboo and lenses made of recycled polycarbonate, the Woodzee glasses protects both you eyes and the environment. As Woodzee states: “Get noticed with some wood on your face. Wear them to the beach. Wear them at night. Pick a kind that fit’s your lifestyle, and tell yourself Wood Looks Good!”
Wear it like a panda
Tucked away in Georgetown, Washington, PANDA produces a line of luxury eco-friendly sunglasses handcrafted from sustainable bamboo and recycled polycarbonates. For every pair purchased PANDA will provide an eye or medical exam to a person in need and will also donate a pair of prescription glasses.
3. See better to Learn Better
A study showed that the percentage of children currently in need of glasses can be as high as 50% in some states in Mexico, and about 11% are not learning at all, simply because they cannot see. “See Better to Learn Better” is a program working on providing free eyeware for students in the age of 6-18.
Sponsored by the Mexican Government and Verbien/Augen Optics and designed by Yves Béhar/fuseproject the glasses come in seven different colors, five shapes and three sizes. The glasses are made out of advanced Gilamid plastic, with its hyper-flexible property, making them practically indestructible – thus they wont easily break into two on the soccer field.
4. 100% street coolness
There is a clear tendency in the want of having one-off objects that makes us unique. More and more the individual wishes to be different and what we wear, buy or surround us with is an easy way to make a statement about who we actually are.
Taking old skateboards and handcrafting them into unique sunglasses with even artwork remnants from the board, Brisbane’s Holloway Eyewear‘s charter is to create while reducing.
By doing so they create one-of-a-kind frames with a distinct antique finish. Imagine all the places your shades might have been before they got to your face. Cool. For more pictures on Holloways Skateboard Glasses, don’t miss this beautiful photo series.
5. The future is already here – almost!
Technology has gotten to a point where it gives us a possibility to really turn our perception of glasses upside-down – furthermore it turns upside-down on how we see and interact with the world we live in.
Contact lenses that help enhance normal vision with megapixel 3D panoramic images can be yours already in 2014, states DARPA and Innovega. What makes Innovega’s iOptik system so clever is that it restructures your eyeballs to be able to focus on things that are close and things that are far away at the same time. When combined with a special set of glasses, it furthermore allows you to focus close and read a heads-up display projected on the glasses. Below Randall Sprague, CTO of Innovega explains how the device works:
Here a bonus movie on how regular contact lenses are made.
Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. Source: Wikipedia
Google’s Project Glass
A Day Made of Glass, showed Corning‘s expanded vision for the future of glass technologies. And referring to the DARPA AR contact lenses where when wearing them it will be possible to read a heads-up displays projected directly on the glass, now Google just unveiled their vision for their “Project Glass” – augmented reality eyewear.
However it is still only a concept and has therefore not at all hit the streets yet. It is presented as the future of augmented reality, wearable computing, and better integration of the Internet and technology in our everyday living. Designed to be as simple as a regular pair of glasses but as helpful as a smart phone, the glass itself has a minimalist design with a microphone and partly-transparent video screen that places information over the view from the users’ right eye. Google just released a concept video on Project Glass, giving us a brief glimpse into what such wearable technology might enable you to do:
One day, when Technology has taken another big step towards a true cyborg world and we’re all using retinal implants with built-in augmented reality tech, Google’s Project Glass will seem odd. But today, it’s the future. Sort of.
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About Maria Hørmann
Maria is editor of Hello Materials Blog and a Project Manager of the Danish Design Centre’s exhitibion team. She follows closely the development within the environmental area, and has a broad, professional knowledge of materials.
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Experience fascinating examples of present and future materials and gain an insight into what they will mean to society and the individual. Visit the exhibition between the 2nd of April and the 21st of September 2012.