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I see wizardry
August 4, 2008 9:53 AM   Subscribe

Attach syringes full of oil to the temples of a pair of double-lensed magic Harry Potter eyeglasses and let poor people see.
posted by orthogonality (57 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is going to make me smile all day.

Thanks, ortho. Haven't seen this anywhere else.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:58 AM on August 4, 2008


Of course, those would probably be illegal in the U.S with the eyeglasses racket setup the way it is.
posted by delmoi at 10:00 AM on August 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Aww dammit! I should have thought of this! I already had the basics: an adjustable amount of clear fluid in a bag used for focusing. I was just thinking of telescopes, not eyewear.
posted by DU at 10:01 AM on August 4, 2008


Very cool invention. I'd love to try a pair.
posted by JBennett at 10:02 AM on August 4, 2008


invention of the year - pure genius
posted by pyramid termite at 10:04 AM on August 4, 2008


This is brilliant.
posted by Oxydude at 10:04 AM on August 4, 2008


(BTW, they could send MY optometrist to sub-Saharan Africa if only he didn't need to hang around here to sign my same prescription over and over every 12 months. Just let me buy my contacts!)
posted by DU at 10:05 AM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is awesome. Is it high tech, or is it something that could have been done a century ago and nobody thought of it? Either way, the future just got a whole lot better looking-- literally-- for a whole lot of people.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:05 AM on August 4, 2008


a) Brilliant but

b) I remember seeing these in the glossary at the back of Dune except those were all-oil in a suspensor field with no glass at all.

Nonetheless. Superb. I'm curious about the optical quality and issues with temperature changes but hey, big stride toward vision for all. (And, much to my surprise, these could feasibly adjust to even my insane diopter powers.)
posted by abulafa at 10:08 AM on August 4, 2008


unSane asked about glasses like these a while back in an AskMe thread (in which I embarrass myself). His idea is a little different, as he wanted them to automatically adjust themselves to handle presbyopia. Tylermoody's comment is prescient: "Do you like clunky emo-kid glasses? These are sure to be large frames. "
posted by painquale at 10:11 AM on August 4, 2008


Awesome. The range of +6 to -6 is pretty good, too. Is this stuff more refractive than standard eyeglass materials?
posted by grobstein at 10:12 AM on August 4, 2008


Is it high tech, or is it something that could have been done a century ago...

Well..you could probably make this work in 1908 using glass and vegetable oil. The thing that's really lacking is the plastic film. You need the lenses to be transparent, obv....
posted by DU at 10:16 AM on August 4, 2008


The goggles, they do...

wait! They work!
posted by Happy Dave at 10:19 AM on August 4, 2008 [14 favorites]


DU writes "Well..you could probably make this work in 1908 using glass and vegetable oil."

In an.... airship?!!!!!
posted by orthogonality at 10:20 AM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I see this as a step forward to world peace. This will allow a nerdocracy to arise in third world countries. Averse to violence of any kind (especially wedgies and noogies) they will push for a pacifist agenda.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:25 AM on August 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


Having actually watched the video, a little more than my slightly flip webmeme response.

This is seriously amazing use of what is actually quite basic technology. Low cost, hard-wearing, intuitive. And they're making a thinner, lighter version to address the 'one complaint' of weight and size.

This kind of stuff makes me hopeful for the world.
posted by Happy Dave at 10:25 AM on August 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'll wait until they release the one promised in the back of comic books so I can see through girl's skirts the bones of my hand.

These are really cool though. My mother's cousin takes donated eye glasses to poor countries and does "close approximation" prescriptions. Meaning if he has lenses that fit and are close to prescription, the person gets glasses. If not, tough luck.

This is so much better.

I can't imagine having glasses that were "as close as I could get with what I have." These look dorky as hell, but the cost is right, and I don't think fashion would be high on my list if my choices were these or nothing.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:27 AM on August 4, 2008


One problem, of course, is that they don't correct astigmatism. Another is that they don't function as bifocals, to address presbyopia. (And they cover too small a range of diopters for me, otherwise I'd want to get a pair.)
posted by orthogonality at 10:31 AM on August 4, 2008


Wonderful heartwarming story and a nice example of low-tech solutions to some of the problems of poverty. What a huge difference these will make in the lives of school children who cannot see the board.
posted by LarryC at 10:43 AM on August 4, 2008


Great find, ortho.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:45 AM on August 4, 2008


Wouldn't it be great to discover that the chief problem in a lot of the more war-torn parts of the world, was that people were just really grouchy over not being able to see clearly day-in and day-out, and eventually this irritant caused them to snap?

So these glasses are broadly and quickly released, and completely unexpectedly, world peace ensues.

Ok, so maybe that's a bit of a long shot. But it's great that such a simple system will be able to benefit so many people. If this works, it's going to make a lot of people very, very happy.
posted by quin at 10:53 AM on August 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Now, if you could progressively dial down the accuracy of the correction, say by depressing the syringe's plunger with a stepped motor attached to a timer, these things might make great pick-up bar accessories.
posted by orthogonality at 10:58 AM on August 4, 2008


This made me smile. There are good people in this world.

They aren't perfect (they are heavy and look funny, they have a limited range of diopters, they don't correct astigmatism) but they are way better than the current alternative of nothing. And even if someone needed -8 glasses, these adjusted to their maximum of -6 would get that person a lot closer to seeing the world than, again, nothing.

I would love to buy a pair just because they are neat, and to support a good cause. Maybe they could do a "buy one for $100, and five people in a developing country will get glasses" kind of promotion?
posted by Forktine at 10:58 AM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


orthogonality writes "One problem, of course, is that they don't correct astigmatism. Another is that they don't function as bifocals, to address presbyopia. (And they cover too small a range of diopters for me, otherwise I'd want to get a pair.)"

One way to correct for astigmatism would be to have two layers of correction: one spherical, as in the current version, another cylindrical. The cylindrical correction is definitely trickier, but perhaps it could be managed by constraining the stiffness of the outer layers.

For bifocals, you can manage with stick-on Fresnel lenses.
posted by Araucaria at 11:04 AM on August 4, 2008


Forktine writes "I would love to buy a pair just because they are neat, and to support a good cause. Maybe they could do a 'buy one for $100, and five people in a developing country will get glasses' kind of promotion?"

They estimate the bulk cost to "eventually" be a dollar a pair.

(I wonder if a progressive organization could buy a gross or three, and hand them out in Appalachia while registering voters for Obama?)
posted by orthogonality at 11:05 AM on August 4, 2008


Alas, I am too nearsighted for these by far.

I've always donated my old eyeglasses though, so hopefully there's some super-nearsighted kid out there who's benefiting from my extreme myopia.
posted by padraigin at 11:09 AM on August 4, 2008


They estimate the bulk cost to "eventually" be a dollar a pair.

I like the idea of buying one for $100 and having 100 people get glasses even better.

Great FPP, this really made my day.
posted by Forktine at 11:25 AM on August 4, 2008


That is just really fantastic. I didn't start wearing glasses until I was in college, but it was a revelation. I've got pretty good uncorrected vision (I only wear my glasses to drive and in movies or dark lecture halls), but knowing what a difference it's made in my life, I've got to figure that this would be a huge deal for those who haven't had access to corrective lenses before.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:32 AM on August 4, 2008


Thank God there's someone out there still working on stuff like this.

Maybe shit isn't quite as grim as it appears.
posted by smackwich at 11:44 AM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Simply amazing.

At a dollar a pair, damn near revolutionary.

And being able to do this "in the field" instead of doctors' offices... just amazing really.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:47 AM on August 4, 2008


I am so glad when the MacGyver of the world actually get around to solving problems, rather than simply defusing bombs with rubber bands.

Next up! A hearing aid made of a chewed chicklet!
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:47 AM on August 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


These look dorky as hell, but the cost is right, and I don't think fashion would be high on my list if my choices were these or nothing.

I've been looking for new glasses and have a picture of Sigmund Freud with me as the example of the glasses I want. Sure the side arms are clunky, but the front frames are awesome cool.

I third the I'd pay $100 for a pair and send the remainder to folks who need 'em.
posted by Gucky at 12:02 PM on August 4, 2008


quin writes:
"Wouldn't it be great to discover that the chief problem in a lot of the more war-torn parts of the world, was that people were just really grouchy over not being able to see clearly day-in and day-out, and eventually this irritant caused them to snap?"

Maybe they will just give these folks better aim.
posted by redteam at 12:04 PM on August 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


Man, this is just really great.

I remember seeing these in the glossary at the back of Dune except those were all-oil in a suspensor field with no glass at all.

Heh. Geek hug.
posted by cortex at 12:10 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Could the oil be tinted for light-sensitive people?
posted by Cranberry at 12:17 PM on August 4, 2008


I love that there are still things with simple, elegant solutions.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:18 PM on August 4, 2008


You know, I can't remember the last time I got such a "Yay humanity! Yay engineering!" warm and fuzzy. Great story, great link, and not even the "wait! some people say it's bad!" aspect of, say, microfinancing.

<3 Science!
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:45 PM on August 4, 2008


"I can't imagine having glasses that were "as close as I could get with what I have." These look dorky as hell, but the cost is right, and I don't think fashion would be high on my list if my choices were these or nothing."

Dorky? Phillip Johnson wouldn't agree.

For bifocals, something like these stick-on lenses would work.
posted by jjj606 at 12:47 PM on August 4, 2008


Does this mean they'll finally use those $100 Laptops?
posted by Stan Chin at 1:13 PM on August 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


"Well..you could probably make this work in 1908 using glass and vegetable oil. The thing that's really lacking is the plastic film"

They would have used mica - flexible, clear, and strong.
posted by zippy at 1:16 PM on August 4, 2008


W00! Stan Chin! I haven't seen you here in ages! These new glasses must be working!
posted by quin at 1:31 PM on August 4, 2008


Frank Hebert's oil lens
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:34 PM on August 4, 2008


Incredible. This makes me like people again. Until tomorrow.
posted by tkchrist at 2:07 PM on August 4, 2008


Interesting concept.
posted by NikolaTesla at 2:26 PM on August 4, 2008


an opticon?
posted by zengargoyle at 3:06 PM on August 4, 2008


I'd bet they could sell a lot of these in airports, gift shops and 24-hour pharmacies. Breaking/losing your glasses while on vacation (especially on a long weekend or in the back country) is a royal pain. Being able to get a clunky pair for $20 would be awesome and because with one size fits 90% retailers wouldn't need to dedicate a lot of shelf space.
posted by Mitheral at 3:47 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


There is nothing in this that inherently limits it to poor people, or ugly glasses. Some thickness of frame is necessary, obviously, but that's not so much a design limitation as a surface for self-expression.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:40 PM on August 4, 2008


aeschenkarnos writes "There is nothing in this that inherently limits it to [..] ugly glasses"

I'd think it would be a lot harder to make this work with lense membranes that aren't spherical.
posted by Mitheral at 4:57 PM on August 4, 2008


This is fantastic. Having just gotten my first glasses last week, I almost went into shock at the prices. Making vision available to everyone is a noble cause. I too would buy into the "I'll buy one at Spoiled American prices and give X number of people one for free."
posted by dejah420 at 7:58 PM on August 4, 2008


These look dorky as hell, but the cost is right

I'd call 'em Steampunk eyeglasses, advertise them on BoingBoing and knock them out at $500 a pair.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:24 PM on August 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Having just gotten my first glasses last week, I almost went into shock at the prices.

Zenni Optical.
posted by mecran01 at 10:48 PM on August 4, 2008


Wouldn't it be great to discover that the chief problem in a lot of the more war-torn parts of the world, was that people were just really grouchy over not being able to see clearly day-in and day-out, and eventually this irritant caused them to snap?

on the other hand, it would not be great to discover that the chief reason many of them had survived so far is because no one could see what they were shooting at
posted by pyramid termite at 12:29 AM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


very, very cool. i remember my one-and-seventy-year old aunt (she *seemed* that old), the eldest of immigrant farming parents, telling me that she was amazed when she got her first pair of glasses and she could see for herself that a patch of grass is comprised of individual blades of grass.

regarding aesthetics: i can't imagine that given the choice between looking like harry potter or squinting like mr. magoo most people won't mind the standard heavy black frames.
posted by msconduct at 6:27 AM on August 5, 2008


Pony Request: Over-sized lenses, always adjustable, for various tasks at home. Pump 'em up a bit for the monitor, a whole bunch for detail work. Switch to the multi-focals for street wear.
posted by Goofyy at 7:37 AM on August 5, 2008


they should make glasses that allow adaptive eyewear a better sense of aesthetic design for their videos
posted by yonation at 7:58 AM on August 5, 2008


I wonder if you could design ones like this to correct for astigmatism, or if it's just spherical correction. It seems like a round lens would inherently cause a spherical correction, and that in order to get cylindrical corrections, you'd have to change the shape of the lens.

Also: I wonder if you could do something where you'd start off with a liquid-filled lens, adjust it to your eyes, then heat/UV-expose it to set the liquid inside (may use some sort of clear epoxy?), to create a solid lens. Then you'd be able to trim the lens to fit any shape frame you wanted, or make child-size glasses, bifocals, etc.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:02 AM on August 5, 2008


FWIW, I am currently wearing my glasses from Zenni Optical. Two pairs of glasses plus one pair of prescription sunglasses = $50. And to be honest, they look better and even appear better quality than my $600 pair.

And this is a wonderful story. I will be checking further into this for the school in Cameroon I work with (available in Projects, for those interested).
posted by Kickstart70 at 1:30 PM on August 5, 2008


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