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I Can See Clearly Now

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University of Utah electrical and computer engineering professor Carlos Mastrangelo, right, and doctoral student Nazmul Hasan with the smart glasses.

Researchers at the University of Utah have created "smart glasses" that can automatically adjust their focus.

Credit: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering

University of Utah researchers have created "smart glasses" with liquid-based lenses that can automatically adjust focus on what a person is seeing, whether it is far away or nearby.

The smart eyeglass lenses are 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 mechanical actuators that push the membrane back and forth like a transparent piston, changing the curvature of the liquid lens and 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," says Utah professor Carlos Mastrangelo. He notes the lenses are placed in specialized eyeglass frames equipped with electronics and a battery to control and power the actuators.

The bridge of the glasses has a distance meter that measures the distance from the glasses to an object via pulses of infrared light. When the user looks at an object, the meter instantly measures the distance and automatically adjusts the lenses. If the user sees another, closer object, the distance meter readjusts and tells the actuators to reshape the lens.

From UNews (UT)
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