Wearables

Ctrl One smart glasses auto tint to suit lighting conditions

The Ctrl One smart glasses can toggle between transparent and sunglasses mode, manually or autonomously at an illumination threshold set by the user
The Ctrl One smart glasses can toggle between transparent and sunglasses mode, manually or autonomously at an illumination threshold set by the user
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2010 Tour de France winner Andy Schleck endorses the Ctrl One glasses
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2010 Tour de France winner Andy Schleck endorses the Ctrl One glasses
The "Andy Schleck Special Edition" glasses sport chromed frame and blue lenses
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The "Andy Schleck Special Edition" glasses sport chromed frame and blue lenses
The Ctrl One smart glasses can toggle between transparent and sunglasses mode, manually or autonomously at an illumination threshold set by the user
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The Ctrl One smart glasses can toggle between transparent and sunglasses mode, manually or autonomously at an illumination threshold set by the user
The glasses are available in six frame and lens combinations
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The glasses are available in six frame and lens combinations
A look at the under-the-hood components of the glasses
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A look at the under-the-hood components of the glasses
The nose and temple pads are adjustable and can fit prescription lenses
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The nose and temple pads are adjustable and can fit prescription lenses

A Dutch subsidiary of liquid crystal specialist AlphaMicron is turning to Indiegogo to fund the development of Ctrl One, a pair of glasses mostly targeted to cyclists and runners that can change tint from dark to transparent in a fraction of a second, automatically adapting to surrounding lighting conditions.

Photochromic lenses, which have been around for decades, can change their tint to dynamically fit the surrounding lighting conditions, but they usually take minutes to do so. More recently, scientists have been developing ways of changing the tint nearly instantaneously in both glass lenses and windows, using a small electric current as the trigger.

Ohio-based company AlphaMicron developed such a technology (which is dubbed "e-Tint") in a way that lets the lens tint switch from transparent to sunglasses mode in just one tenth of a second. Originally commissioned by the US military, the technology has already been adapted for use in third-party consumer products and found its way to motorcycle helmets.

Now, through its Dutch subsidiary Ctrl, the company has come up with the design for a pair of glasses that makes use of the same e-Tint technology. While the Ctrl Ones don't sport LiDAR and twin HUDs, the glasses boast a decent battery life, and are rain and sweat resistant.

The nose and temple pads are adjustable and can fit prescription lenses
The nose and temple pads are adjustable and can fit prescription lenses

Users can toggle the lens tint with the press of a button on the temple/arm or, in automatic mode, have the integrated sensor detect the lighting conditions and switch on their own. The idea behind the automatic mode is to make cycling (or driving) safer by removing the need for you to take your hands off the handlebar (or wheel).

The glasses are also fitted with ballistic lenses (meaning they offer a higher level of protection against debris like pebbles – not that they stop bullets). The creators do warn, though, that the Ctrl One glasses should be handled with care, and are not as robust as standard, non-electronic glasses. For an extra US$10, a special lens holder that fits inside the adjustable nose pad allows you to equip the glasses with prescription lenses.

Ctrl One is being made available in five frame colors with either neutral, orange or blue lenses. The glasses reportedly weigh just 1.8 oz (50 g) and run on a 50 mAh lithium-ion battery that charges in one hour via microUSB and reportedly lasts for 50 hours of operational time.

A look at the under-the-hood components of the glasses
A look at the under-the-hood components of the glasses

A second version of the glasses is in the works and is set to include GPS technology to detect altitude and average speed. The company says that the updated version, which will also reportedly include the ability to switch between more than two tint shades, should be ready within the next 12-18 months.

Three days into its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, the Ctrl One glasses have already surpassed the initial funding goal of US$20,000. At the time of writing, you can pledge $125 for an early bird pair. The glasses will come with a 6-month warranty and, if all goes to plan, are set to be delivered by November.

You can see the product in action in the video below.

Source: CTRL Eyewear

3 comments
flink
Are these termed ballistic according to the self-certified Z87 standard or do they meet the MilStd 662 requirements?
Bob Flint
That's not that impressive, considering the automatic welding helmets have been doing this for years. $40 million dollars you should have a contact lens version powered by the eye, either salt water & or electro-thermally to engage and activate the tint.
Les.B.
No mention of whether or not these have UV protection, a vital consideration.
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