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The future of eyeglasses, part 1

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Moving sidewalks. Check. Robot vacuum cleaners. Check. Talking alarm clocks. Check. Speedy push-button cooking. Check. Live video chats. Check. Personal jetpacks. Check. Flying cars. Check.

All of these futuristic conveniences were depicted in “The Jetsons” when it debuted 50 years ago. At that time they didn’t exist. Now they do.

What? Even the flying car? Yes, even the flying car, which exists as a hybrid car / airplane that’s about three years away from the market. Don’t believe me? Google it (after you’ve finished reading this blog).

We still don’t have George Jetson’s nine-hour work week (sigh). And you’d pretty much have to go to an airport to ride on a moving sidewalk.

But all of these things have, in one way or another, come to pass, not to mention some little ol’ things “The Jetsons” didn’t foresee, such as the personal computer and the internet.

All of these devices have changed our lives for the better. (OK, maybe not the talking alarm clock.) But other inventions, such as eyeglasses, despite some improvements and refinements, have stubbornly remained pretty much the way they were in the 20th century.

That’s about to change, with new generations of eyeglasses being developed or currently available that provide these amazing functions:

Giving limited vision to the blind. Check. Correcting colorblindness. Check. Automatically changing the focus of your single-vision eyeglasses from distance to near. Check. Downloadable glasses made in a 3-D printer. Check. Eye exams done on your smartphone. Check.

Plus the biggest change of all, which has gotten the most ink: Google Glass, a pair of glasses that are not actually eyeglasses, but a computer that’s worn on your face, just like a pair of glasses.

You’ve doubtless heard about Google Glass, its innovations as well as its drawbacks. Even though it won’t be released for purchase to the general public until next year, it’s already getting some angry pushback from people disturbed by the invasion-of-privacy implications of Glass wearers being able surreptitiously to video-record or photograph them, who have coined the term “Glassholes.”

Google’s competitors, including Sony, Nokia, Microsoft and Apple, among others, are rushing to improve on a product that isn’t even available for purchase yet.

(Some software developers were allowed to buy and test prototype Google Glasses at $1,500 a pop.)

Check out The future of eyeglasses, part two, for innovations by other eyeglasses companies, including goggles for skiers, who will be able to see information about their descent right on the lenses.

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