The days of being blinded by glare from the sun, despite the $300 sunglasses straddling your face, may soon be over.
Chris Mullin, PhD, a formerly local inventor and entrepreneur, has teamed up with the University at Buffalo to develop sunglasses that detect bright spots of light and darken specific parts of the lens to protect sunglasses wearers from blinding glare.
And the U.S. Air Force is funding new research focused on creating eyewear for fighter pilots and soldiers. The technology may also have potential applications in the automotive, recreational and health care sectors.
“Our products let users see more in glare situations than ever before, because they reduce direct glare 10 to 100 times more than any other sunglasses,” says Mullin, adding, “when there is no glare, it’s just a pair of sunglasses.”
Mullin is the founder and CEO of Dynamic Eye, a company he created in 2003, and has since worked with UB electrical-engineering professor Albert Titus, PhD, on producing state-of-the-art sunglasses that combine sensors and miniaturized electronics to identify and block bright glare.
The sunglasses are not yet ready for the consumer market.
Together, Mullin and Titus improved the speed at which the sensor was able to detect glare, at one point taking a prototype of the sunglasses to Buffalo’s Delaware Park and testing them out on random park goers.
“Dr. Titus and I built a significant amount of ‘brains’ into our patented glare sensor,” says Mullin, an expert in optics, electronics and plastics. “Our microcontroller does not need to work very hard to perceive and fight glare.”
The glasses’ lenses are actually liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, capable of creating dark spots that specifically target glaring light.