Carlos Mastrangelo, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Utah, created a pair of smart glasses with liquid lenses that shift their curvature to focus on whatever you happen to be looking at in a matter of milliseconds. Mastrangelo reportedly got sick of having to constantly put on and take off his reading glasses, which is why he decided to come up with a solution to his troubles. His solution was shown at this year's CES but didn't manage to garner much fanfare until recently making an appearance in a popular journal Optics Express. The glasses last 24 hours on a single charge and use a special liquid lens substrate along with electrically controlled actuators which can judge the distance between the glasses and any object when coupled with infrared lasers. Altogether, this system can curve the lenses to automatically focus on an object that a user is looking at, making them useful for any task. The glasses could be available to the public in as little as two years.
The design of the glasses is obviously quite bulky and may be changed before commercialization, as is usually the case with prototypes. The original pair was created by Mastrangelo for his own personal use, after all. For now, the thick frames contain the actuators, the bridge of the glasses is where the infrared laser sits, and both lenses hold a layer of a liquid substrate with enough room for curving. Smaller or differently shaped lenses may need less curvature. The prototype needs only 14 milliseconds for focus changes, but the final product may be even faster than that.
Getting into the technical side of things, the liquid substrate inside of the lenses is much like a liquid crystal display but made of a transparent material with no backing. The liquid is whipped into shape by electrical charges from the actuator, curving in direct reaction to the voltage applied. This means that the lenses' visual corrective power is in direct correlation to the voltage. In layman's terms, the battery lasts 24 hours give or take, and the fluctuations in battery life will depend on how the glasses are used. For example, people using them as their prescription lenses may experience a weaker battery life. The pricing is a bit unpredictable right now and will largely depend on development, but Mastrangelo is currently throwing around estimates ranging from $500 to $1,000.