What is it about science fiction that intrigues us so much? It’s one of the most popular genres of book, TV programme, and film, and the public flocks towards it wherever it may be, seeking it out much like Captain Kirk and Mr Spock sought out strange new worlds.
One theory is that sci-fi allows those who enjoy it to ask ‘what if?’ – which is something that, as a species, we are often given to doing. What if that really happened? What if we could travel to other planets? What if aliens really do exist? What if time travel were possible? Once the ‘what if’ has been asked, the possibilities are endless.
So what if some of the amazing and fantastical glasses that feature pretty prominently in some of the most well known science fiction stories actually existed? Would the world be a different (and maybe even better – certainly more exciting) place? What difference would these sci-fi specs make to our daily lives? And what if they actually already exist?
Take Doctor Who, for example. In his current incarnation, the Doctor has forgone the good old sonic screwdriver and taken to wearing sonic sunglasses instead. That coupled with his love of playing a fairly rare old electric guitar make the man stand out. They make him different because, to paraphrase a previous Doctor’s logic, “glasses are cool”.
Plus, these particular shades can bend time and mend spaceships and all sort of other useful sci-fi stuff.
But these are not the only specs to show up in science fiction. There have been plenty of others, each one as iconic as the last.
Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation won’t be able to forget Jordie La Forge’s VISOR, a futuristic ‘pair’ of glasses that allowed a blind man to see (by scanning the electromagnetic spectrum and sending the signal directly into his optic nerve), and not just see with 20/20 vision, but to see much, much more than that.
And what about Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible? His glasses transmitted a live video feed which turned out to very handy indeed. In Watchmen, Nite Owl was able to see in the dark thanks to his specs, and, perhaps most famous of all, in Back to the Future Part II, Marty McFly Jr wears a pair of glasses that allows him to watch TV no matter where he is.
How close are we, technologically, to having some or all of these devices at our fingertips? The great minds are already thinking this over, influenced by stories that we thought were impossible. As technology advances, so impossible things suddenly become the everyday.
Recon’s Smart Goggles are designed for the winter sports’ market, and include built in GPS, movement sensors, readouts that give you your speed, distance, heart rate, and more, as well as an HD camera to take photos and videos. Futuristic!
Or what about the Narbis? Never heard of it? The makers of these unique specs ran an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign for get them made, and although they didn’t receive all of the money they had hoped for, they are still trying.
The Narbis glasses can actually sense when you are losing concentration, and when they’ve clocked that you’re finding things a bit much to focus on, the lenses darken, giving you an immediate and easy to spot metaphorical kick to get you thinking again.
And of course, there’s the famous Google Glass, which was meant to be glasses that functioned as a smartphone, they didn’t quite get off the ground, but that doesn’t mean the technology won’t work once those in the know have done some more research.
These are more and just ready and waiting to make our lives easier, more interesting, and so much more fun. Have you heard of any other eyewear inventions set to revolutionise our way of life? Let us know in the comments section below!