Awesome Eyeglasses For The Future Win Wall Street Journal Tech Award

Eyeglass technology hasn't advanced very much since the 19th century... until now. TruFocals, soon to be re-branded Superfocus, are the coolest things in prescription eyeglasses since Benjamin Franklin made his own.  In fact, they are designed just like Franklin's glasses. 

But it's not the frame that's the 'focus' of this invention.  Having won the PopSci's Best of What's New Award in the healthy category in 2009, the presbyopic to hyperoptic sliding scale glasses just won another recognition with a Silver in the Wall Street Journal's  2010 Technology Innovation Awards.  Here's the deal...


 Trufocals, soon to become Superfocus, are the future of eyeglasses: © TrufocalsTrufocals, soon to become Superfocus, are the future of eyeglasses: © Trufocals


When you reach 'a certain age,' like around 45, you begin to lose your ability to see or read things close up (presbyopia), so you hold reading material, for example, further away from your eyes.  This condition deteriorates as you age until your arms are not long enough to reach the spot at which you can read.  So you use 'reading glasses."

But guess what?  As you age, your distance vision (hyperopia) also declines, so you need another pair of glasses to see far away.  Alternatively, you can get bifocals, prescribed by an optician, which corrects both conditions in one pair of glasses.  Forget about seeing in the middle range, but if you're lucky, your eyes will make a quick adjustment to changing from your distance lense on the top and the close-up lense on the bottom.  


TruFocals come in one shape, but many colors: © TruFocalsTruFocals come in one shape, but many colors: © TruFocals


Of course, there's the opportunity to get trifocals, or progressive lenses, which are helpful for distance, closeup, and medium distances (say, seeing the computer).  But progressive lenses are only helpful if your unaided mid-range falls naturally between your near vision correction and your distance vision correction.

If you are over 45, you understand this; otherwise, it may befuddle you, but that's because vision correction technology has not advanced very much since the 19th century.

But TruFocals, created by Stephen Kurtin, who also developed one of the first word-processing programs in the early 1990's, imitate the eye's natural ability to zoom.  I guess that's why the technology is called Zoom Focus.


TruFocals are self adjusting to your distance needs.: image via PopSci.comTruFocals are self adjusting to your distance needs.: image via


How is this done?  There are two lenses in the TruFocal frame.  The one closest to your eye is a flexible lens and the outside lens, more rigid, is your corrective lens.  Between the two is a membrane that is filled with a silicon-based fluid.  The slider on the bridge of the frame over your nose squeezes the liquid, which puts pressure on the inner membrane to change curvature, thereby adjusting the lense to your focal point. Here's Stephen Kurtin to show you how they work.




A very similar technology was used by atomic physicist and Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, Josh Silver, in the development of Adspecs, eyeglasses that he introduced to remote village people in third world countries.  Adspecs also makes use of the two lenses and the silicon liquid between them, but they can only accommodate near and far distance sight; nothing in between.

TruFocals only come in one style of frame, but there's a wide variety of colors available.  Some consider this a drawback.  As for me, there are only two drawbacks to these glasses: one is the price ($895) and the other is that you still need to get a prescription for them.  If you have a prescription, you can order the TruFocals right now from


Sources: Wall Street Journal, TruFocals, PopSci, Adspecs


Jan 30, 2012
by Anonymous

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