Affordable, Self-Adjustable Glasses for the World's Poorest Are in Sight

Illustration for article titled Affordable, Self-Adjustable Glasses for the World's Poorest Are in Sight

Two and a half years on, and the British atomic physicist who invented these optician-less adjustable glasses is now working with the World Bank and the Dow Corning Corporation to supply 200 million pairs to African and Asian schoolchildren.

Professor Joshua Silver, the man who first dreamt the glasses up 20 years ago when he was a physics professor at Oxford University, England, was shortlisted for a 2011 European inventor award last week. He hopes to create a billion pairs of glasses, but he's still struggling to reach that £1-a-pair ($1.60) manufacturing cost. Currently, they cost about £15 ($24) a pair to manufacture, but as Silver says "we have to get that cost down if we want to get these in numbers to children in Africa or Asia."

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If successful, the person just has to look at an eyechart and manually adjust the glasses themselves, which work by filling the two adaptive lenses with more or less silicone gel. The more gel that's pumped between the two thin lenses, the stronger the prescription. Another issue Silver is facing is one of aesthetics—namely, they're not the coolest frames on the block. "If we want teenagers to wear them, we will have to make them less obtrusive and more stylish. In essence, we want to make them look just like standard glasses," Silver commented. [The Guardian]

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DISCUSSION

One way to make them cheaper: sell them to NASA for for "just" $699, thereby undercutting the $700+ they're paying "Superfocus" for similar adjustable glasses. Then use the $675 profit per pair to subsidize them for the poor. At the same time they'll save tax payers money and so become heroes in America.

[blog.gizmodo.com]

(Yes, I am being slightly ironic. I do realize that NASA probably buys very few of these.)