What it does
We're solving a problem which can be summarised with a simple question - what do prescription glasses wearers do when the sun shines? With Gilaasi Finetunes you just tap. Tap right for sunglasses and tap left for glasses.
I bought my first, and only, pair of photochromic lenses because I thought automatic sunglasses would equal automatic sophistication when the sun shines. I was wrong. My 'Eureka moment' wasn't a single moment in time but it was more a series of moments in which I would walk into rooms still wearing sunglasses (because photochromic lenses take so long to adjust). After being teased one time too many by friends and coworkers, I decided there must be a better way.
How it works
Gilaasi Finetunes consist of four core elements. The printed circuit board (PCB), the battery, the adjustable lenses and the frame to enclose these elements and the wiring. The PCB rests in one temple and the battery in the other. The PCB controls a current which is passed through the adjustable lenses (in our prototype we have used liquid crystal technology for this). When no current is passed through the lens, you have clear glasses. When a current is passed through the lenses, the liquid crystals orient themselves in such a manner that not as much light passes through, so you have your tint effect and hence sunglasses.
We have developed three prototypes so far. Our first consisted of just two adjustable lenses connected to a relatively large PCB (43mm x 20mm x 20mm). In order to control the tint of the lens, you rotated a small knob. This was a proof-of-concept to illustrate the effect. For our second prototype, we retrofitted a pair of glasses with adjustable lenses (which sat on top of the glasses' lenses). We stuck a battery to one of the temples and a smaller PCB (55mm x 12mm x 4mm) to the other with tape. We had our first pair of Finetunes. However, it was very ugly with wires stuck onto the frame. Also, we used buttons to adjust the tint level. For our most recent prototype, we 3D printed a glasses frame into which the battery, PCB and wires could be hidden with the adjustable lenses placed in the two front apertures. We also decided that having buttons on glasses was a foreign concept which wasn't very user-friendly. So we figured that we could fit an accelerometer onto the PCB without increasing its size, which allowed for tint control with just a tap. We will still need further iteration to make our final product as this prototype is still not as aesthetic as we want. However, it functions essentially as the final product will.
How it is different
The closest product to Finetunes on the market are photochromic lenses. These glasses adjust from clear to tinted upon exposure to UV light. They take about five minutes to adjust from tinted sunglasses to clear glasses once they are no longer exposed to UV light. There are two key differences with Finetunes. First is control. The wearer controls the adjustment between glasses and sunglasses. With photochromic lenses you have no control over when the glasses tint. Second is speed. Finetunes can adjust between states in less than once second, whereas photochromic lenses take several minutes.
The next step is to finalise prototype iteration and develop aesthetic samples which are designed for manufacture (these will look and feel like the final product). With these samples we could test, and iterate further, with consumers before beginning marketing our pre-order or crowdfunding campaign for the product. We would also secure letters of intent from opticians and retailers. We would subsequently begin mass manufacture of the first production run. Our goal is to be the market leader of what will be a new niche of eyewear.