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Coming soon: High-tech spectacles from Ghent

© Morrow eyewear

The Ghent-based tech company Morrow is about to launch a range of high-tech spectacles, initially on the Belgian market, that allow the wearer to switch between near vision and distance vision at the press of a button.

Many of us have had the experience: You’re browsing your phone while waiting for a bus. The bus comes along and you look up, but your eyes are too slow to distinguish the number-board.

One solution is to invest in costly bifocals (or even trifocals), where half of the lens is for near vision and the top half for far vision. The solution is not optically perfect, and not optimal for some people, but it’s the best that’s been available until now.

Morrow is claiming a breakthrough.

Our lenses consist of two wafer-thin, ultra-precise optical lenses,” said co-founder Jelle De Smet, who set up Morrow with Paul Marchal, who he met when they were both working at the Leuven research institute Imec.

Between the two layers is a thin course of liquid crystal, similar to what’s in many TV sets, which changes the way the light hits either lens.

On the right leg of the frame is a button, which, when pressed, sends an electrical pulse through the glass via a nanochip, switching one lens for the other. To switch back, press again.

The glasses were developed together with 3D printing company Materialize for the materials, and eyewear brand Hoet for the design.

The glasses have one disadvantage, however: electronics require power. The glasses contain a tiny battery to keep them functioning, and the battery requires charging. The makers say a full charge will last three days. However as the users of charged devices know – and these days that’s everyone – it’s always better to charge more than be caught short when you need power most.

For the time being, the glasses can only be ordered online. An appointment is made and a specialist will come to your home to carry out the necessary measurements. Both frame and lenses are tailor-made.

The glasses retail for around €1,000.