Scientists have developed smart glasses which can adapt automatically to focus on what their user is looking at – a creation which could make bifocal glasses and separate reading glasses a thing of the past in the near future.

Researchers from the University of Utah in the US created the adaptive glasses, which use liquid lenses.

Using a small amount of electricity, the liquid is able to autofocus in just 14 milliseconds.

The glasses are controlled using an electronic actuator, which changes the focus of the glasses by stretching or compressing the glass – much in the same way the lens in the human eye focuses.

The invention is cited as being more versatile than bifocal or multi-focal glasses because when they do focus they don’t leave some areas of their lens blurry, as can be seen in the image below.

The lenses in action on text
(Carlos Mastrangelo)

 

The glasses currently use a rechargeable battery which can last for more than 24 hours per charge.

All that clever stuff won’t come cheap of course, and the inventors say the glasses would have a price of around $1,000 (£795).

The glasses are currently in the prototype stages and work is being done to reduce the size of their currently slightly clunky design.

The inventors with the glasses
(Dan Hixon/University of Utah College of Engineering)

 

“Most people who get reading glasses have to put them on and take them off all the time,” said co-inventor professor Carlos Mastrangelo, pictured above right, who created the prototype with doctoral student Nazmul Hasan, pictured left.

“You don’t have to do that anymore. You put these on, and it’s always clear.”

Read more: Eyejusters - adjustable reading glasses that let you change the focus within seconds.