How long before Geordi LaForge's visor is real? They're not that far off, it seems.

I had my annual eye exam last week, and the great news was that I didn't need progressive lenses. I love my glasses, but the idea of progressives was daunting. That got me thinking about the technology behind glasses, and progressives in particular.

You're probably familiar with Benjamin Franklin and his bifocals from back in the 1760s. Spectacles have changed a lot since then, and that's a good thing; while there are actual high index lenses made of glass, they don't meet US safety standards, according to my optometrist. She also mentioned that even in the last year or so the new progressives have significantly reduced the amount of peripheral distortion.

While researching the topic, I stumbled across a New York Times article about TruFocals, which use three layers of lenses, including a clear liquid middle lens that can be adjusted. So that nerdy finger to the bridge may not be to push the frames up, but to adjust focus with the tiny slider on the bridge. The same NYT article mentions that Pixel Optics is pursuing a technology that will embed LCD technology in conventional lenses. Things have changed since my grandmother's bifocals.

But that's not all; German scientists have invented glasses with interactive display systems that use a chip small to fit on the hinge of the glasses, according to a monstersandcritics.com article.

We've already seen the advent of visor readouts, similar to Geordi's visor in Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as programs like The 10 Million Dollar Man, the Terminator franchise, and more, but they're now a lot closer to becoming reality outside of military application.

[photo: trufocals.com]