A new way of seeing?

The days of having one set of eyeglasses for driving and another for reading may be coming to an end.

Researchers from the University of Utah have created “smart glasses” that can automatically adjust the focus on what a person is seeing, whether it is far away or close up.

“Most people who get reading glasses have to put them on and take them off all the time,” says Carlos Mastrangelo, an electrical and computer engineering professor at University of Utah who is leading the project. “You don’t have to do that anymore. You put these on, and it’s always clear.”

And the lenses can change focus from one object to another in just 14 milliseconds. They do so with the help of an infrared distance-measuring device, some electronic circuits and a tiny motor.

Two people looking at "smart glasses" (Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering)
Lead researcher Carlos Mastrangelo, right, and doctoral student Nazmul Hasan with their “smart glasses” (Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering)

The prototype is still bulky, with thick frames and handles containing the electronics and the battery, but researchers say they are working on a lighter version, much closer to ordinary glasses.

Even better, they say when the new glasses reach mass production, the owners will be able to wirelessly download their prescriptions whenever they change.

Researchers say the autofocusing glasses could be on the market in about three years.

The project was funded with a grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

ShareAmerica contributed to this report.