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Engineers Develop Smart Multi-Focal Glasses PDF
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Feature Story
Monday, 30 January 2017

Smart Multi-Focal GlassesA team led by University of Utah electrical and computer engineering professor Carlos Mastrangelo and doctoral student Nazmul Hasan has created “smart glasses” with liquid-based lenses that can automatically adjust the focus on what a person is seeing, whether it is far away or close up. Research on the adaptive lenses was published recently in a special edition of the journal, Optics Express.

“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 human eye has a lens inside that adjusts the focal depth depending on what you look at. But as people age, the lens loses its ability to change focus, which is why many people ultimately require reading glasses or bifocals to see objects up close and regular eyeglasses to see far away, also known as farsightedness and nearsightedness, respectively.

So Mastrangelo and Hasan have created eyeglass lenses made of glycerin, a thick colorless liquid enclosed by flexible rubber-like membranes in the front and back. 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 focal length of the glasses depends on the shape of the lens, so to change the optical power we actually have to change the membrane shape,” Mastrangelo says.

The lenses are placed in special eyeglass frames also invented by Mastrangelo, Hasan and other members of the research group with electronics and a battery to control and power the actuators. In the bridge of the glasses is a distance meter that measures the distance from the glasses to an object via pulses of infrared light. When the wearer looks at an object, the meter instantly measures the distance and tells the actuators how to curve the lenses. If the user then sees another object that’s closer, the distance meter readjusts and tells the actuators to reshape the lens for farsightedness. Hasan says the lenses can change focus from one object to another in 14 milliseconds. A rechargeable battery in the frames could last more than 24 hours per charge, Mastrangelo says.

Before putting them on for the first time, all users have to do is input their eyeglasses prescription into an accompanying smartphone app, which then calibrates the lenses automatically via a Bluetooth connection. Users only needs to do that once except for when their prescription changes over time, and theoretically, eyeglass wearers will never have to buy another pair again since these glasses would constantly adjust to their eyesight.

Currently, the team has constructed a bulky working prototype that they put on display at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but expect to constantly improve the design to make them smaller and lighter. Mastrangelo said a lighter, more attractive pair could hit the marketplace in as early as three years and that a startup company, Sharpeyes LLC, has been created to commercialize the glasses.

 
Contact Lens Technology Could Revolutionise Battery Power Storage PDF
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Feature Story
Wednesday, 07 December 2016

Contact LensGround-breaking UK research from the University of Surrey and Augmented Optics Ltd., in collaboration with the University of Bristol, has developed potentially transformational technology which could revolutionise the capabilities of appliances that have previously relied on battery power to work.

This development by Augmented Optics Ltd., could translate into very high energy density super-capacitors making it possible to recharge your mobile phone, laptop or other mobile devices in just a few seconds.

The technology could have a seismic impact across a number of industries, including transport, aerospace, energy generation, and household applications such as mobile phones, flat screen electronic devices, and biosensors. It could also revolutionise electric cars, allowing the possibility for them to recharge as quickly as it takes for a regular non-electric car to refuel with petrol – a process that currently takes approximately 6-8 hours to recharge.

Supercapacitor buses are already being used in China, but they have a very limited range whereas this technology could allow them to travel a lot further between recharges. Instead of recharging every 2-3 stops this technology could mean they only need to recharge every 20-30 stops and that will only take a few seconds.

The technology was adapted from the principles used to make soft contact lenses, which Dr Donald Highgate (of Augmented Optics, and an alumnus of the University of Surrey) developed following his postgraduate studies at Surrey 40 years ago. Supercapacitors, an alternative power source to batteries, store energy using electrodes and electrolytes and both charge and deliver energy quickly, unlike conventional batteries which do so in a much slower, more sustained way. Supercapacitors have the ability to charge and discharge rapidly over very large numbers of cycles. However, because of their poor energy density per kilogramme (approximately just one twentieth of existing battery technology), they have, until now, been unable to compete with conventional battery energy storage in many applications.

Dr Brendan Howlin of the University of Surrey, explained: “There is a global search for new energy storage technology and this new ultra capacity supercapacitor has the potential to open the door to unimaginably exciting developments.”

The ground-breaking research programme was conducted by researchers at the University of Surrey’s Department of Chemistry where the project was initiated by Dr Donald Highgate of Augmented Optics Ltd. The research team was co-led by the Principal Investigators Dr Ian Hamerton and Dr Brendan Howlin. Dr Hamerton continues to collaborate on the project in his new post at the University of Bristol, where the electrochemical testing to trial the research findings was carried out by fellow University of Bristol academic - David Fermin, Professor of Electrochemistry in the School of Chemistry.

Dr Ian Hamerton, Reader in Polymers and Composite Materials from the Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Bristol said: “While this research has potentially opened the route to very high density supercapacitors, these polymers have many other possible uses in which tough, flexible conducting materials are desirable, including bioelectronics, sensors, wearable electronics, and advanced optics. We believe that this is an extremely exciting and potentially game changing development.”

Jim Heathcote, Chief Executive of both Augmented Optics Ltd and Supercapacitor Materials Ltd, said: “It is a privilege to work with the teams from the University of Surrey and the University of Bristol. The test results from the new polymers suggest that extremely high energy density supercapacitors could be constructed in the very new future. We are now actively seeking commercial partners in order to supply our polymers and offer assistance to build these ultra high energy density storage devices.” 

 
Apple Considers To Launch Digital Glasses As Early As 2018 PDF
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Feature Story
Wednesday, 16 November 2016

AppleAccording to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple is currently weighing the possibility of expanding into the field of digital glasses. According to Bloomberg and Apple insiders, the project is still in an exploration phase but what is know is that the device would connect wirelessly to iPhones, show images and other information in the wearer’s field of vision, and may use augmented reality.

Apparently, Apple has already talked about its glasses project with potential suppliers. The company has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing. However, Apple hasn’t ordered enough components so far to indicate imminent mass-production.

Apple's CEO Tim Cook is under pressure to deliver new products amid slowing sales of the iPhone, which accounts for two-thirds of the company’s revenue. In July, he expressed enthusiasm for augmented reality (AR) after the rise of Pokemon Go, a location-based game that uses the technology.

When it comes to hardware for digital glasses, however, Apple will face many challenges. Fitting the necessary components for the device in a form factor that’s comfortable enough for 24/7 wearing is a problem that has plagued earlier offerings in this market.

 

 
Eyewear Company Offers Snapchat Exclusive Sunglasses PDF
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Feature Story
Friday, 22 July 2016

Snapchat eyewearUS innovative eyewear retailer Warby Parker is offering its very first Snapchat-exclusive product: limited sunglasses that are only available for purchase to its Snapchat followers. The company shared a Snapchat story with its followers with a unique URL where, for a limited time, they can buy "head-turning Haskell in Crystal, now with new silver mirrored lenses" for US$95. The campaign on Snapchat has been very successful for Warby Parker. 

Sharing a sneak peek of what followers on one social network (like Instagram) are missing if they aren’t following the brand on another (like Snapchat) is a great way to build an audience across multiple channels. When fans follow Warby Parker on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, they’re rewarded with exclusive access to content that’s unique to each brand channel.

Snapchat has started to become more serious about e-commerce in May of this year, when it introduced shoppable ads. Shoppable ads of 10 seconds will appear in the channels of brands on social media. Snapchat’s shoppable ads provide users with a direct and native method of completing an action associated with an ad in its Discover channel platform.

 
Researchers Develop Ultra-compact Flat Multifunctional Lens PDF
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Feature Story
Monday, 18 July 2016

Optical FiberResearchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed an ultra-compact, flat lens that can simultaneously capture both spectral information and the chirality of an object.

“For the first time, chiroptical properties can be probed across the entire visible spectrum using only a single planar lens and a camera without the addition of other optical components,” said Federico Capasso, the Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering, and senior author of the paper. “We have demonstrated the potential of metalenses in realizing a compact and multifunctional device with unprecedented chiral imaging capabilities.”

The lens consists of two arrays of titanium oxide nanofins on one glass substrate, as seen below, which forms two images of opposite chirality. The blue and green nanofins focus right-circularly polarized light and left-circularly polarized light, respectively, and display the images side-by-side.

A key feature of the lens is its size, said Wei Ting Chen, a postdoctoral fellow in the Capasso Lab and co-author of the paper. “The chiral lens is very compact, only 3 mm in diameter and thinner than hair, allowing us to integrate it into portable devices,” said Chen. “Our work is an unprecedented demonstration of a multifuntional metasurface,” said Reza Khorasaninejad, a postdocteral fellow in the Capasso Lab and first author of the paper. “We showed that an ultrathin surface can both form an image and simultaneously resolve both polarization and spectral information of a biological specimen.”

The research was recently published in Nano Letters.

 
Essilor Acquires AllAboutVision.com PDF
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Feature Story
Thursday, 30 June 2016

All About VisionEssilor of America has acquired AllAboutVision.com, a popular consumer website and resource unbiased information on a variety of topics relating to vision, eye health, and eyewear. The website was launched in January 2000 to provide consumers with an independent source of trustworthy information on eye health and vision correction options. The site was created by Access Media Group LLC, a print and electronic communications company specializing in vision care. Access Media’s principals have been involved in vision care publishing for more than 35 years.

"Our investment in AllAboutVision.com is driven by our mission of improving lives by improving sight, and will only accelerate national and global growth in the optical industry, ensuring the site has the backing it needs to reach more consumers with impartial information about eye health," states Howard Purcell, O.D., vice president of customer development, Essilor of America.

“We look forward to leveraging the resources of Essilor to expand our delivery of eye health information to consumers,” says Ron Walker, a partner in Access Media Group. “Better educated patients are a key driver of practice growth, overall vision, industry growth, and of course, better vision and enhanced lives for patients themselves.”

 
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