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Full Size Video: Smart Sunglasses

Do you like to match? Or, do you hang around outdoors a lot? Boy are these sunglasses for you.

Chemists at the University of Washington in Seattle are working on "smart" sunglass lenses that will be able to change to any color of the rainbow with just the turn of a knob. The scientists working on this project predict that these sunglasses won't cost much more than regular ones, but they won't be available for several more years as there's still lots of testing to be done.

So far, the prototype that has been produced has a dial attached to the frame that controls the color of the lenses from clear to deep blue or any shade in between. They have also produced the lenses in red and in green. Chunye Xu, Sc.D., a chemical engineer at the University of Washington said, "We are working on a multicolored device as well, but no prototype is available yet."

In addition to their superpowers, these lenses will still be able to undergo traditional lens treatments such as coatings to block ultraviolet light, and will be shaped to fit into trendier frames than the goggles that were used for the prototype.

The idea for the lenses came from polymer chemistry. There is an electrochromic polymer that can change color when prompted by an electric current. The current that powers the prototype lenses is a watch battery, which is only used while color is being changed. Xu said a single watch battery will power thousands of color changes, and once the lenses are set, they should stay that color without power for around 30 days.

Along with their appeal to the matching-savvy population, these will be a downright great purchase for anyone who spends time outside in different light conditions.

Different colors of lenses are for different situations. Golfers wear copper-colored lenses to help with depth perception and seeing detail on the green. Skeet shooters wear orange-colored lenses to enhance the color of clay targets against the sky. See what I mean? These smart sunglasses will be hard to beat!

~ Lauren Greaves

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