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”.
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]