Soon, ‘smart’ shades to help you fight blinding glare from the sun

No matter how expensive your sunglasses may be, it fails to protect you from the sun’s blinding glare.

Which is why Chris Mullin, PhD, a formerly local inventor and entrepreneur, has teamed up with the University at Buffalo to develop sunglasses that detect bright spots of light and darken specific parts of the lens to fight the sun.

“Our products let users see more in glare situations than ever before, because they reduce direct glare 10 to 100 times more than any other sunglasses,” says Mullin, adding, “when there is no glare, it’s just a pair of sunglasses.”

Mullin, together with UB electrical-engineering professor Albert Titus, PhD, produced the state-of-the-art sunglasses that combine sensors and miniaturized electronics to identify and block bright glare.

The glasses’ lenses are actually liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, capable of creating dark spots that specifically target glaring light.

A pinhole camera in the bridge of the glasses takes a picture of the frame”s line of vision. The camera itself analyzes the image and scans it for glare that exceeds a certain threshold.

The camera then alerts an adjacent microcontroller, which directs the LCD to send extra pixels of shade to that portion of the lens, displaying a four- to six-millimeter gray square in front of the eye.

The square moves with the wearer to block the source of glare at any angle but still allows the surroundings to remain visible. If the sun moves, then so does the LCD spot.

This whole process takes about 50 milliseconds.

Although the sunglasses are not yet ready for the consumer market, they are garnering significant attention: these ‘smart’ shades were named in June 1 of Popular Science’s top 10 inventions of 2011.

more recommended stories