When direct, blinding sunlight suddenly hits us head on while driving, most people just squint and bear it. Chris Mullin of Dynamic Eye turned that uncomfortable moment in his daily commute into a new idea: sunglasses that would use liquid crystal technology to instantly block the sun’s glare.
Mullin, a research engineer with a PhD in physics and a background in optics, electronics, and plastics, has been working on his invention since 2002.
“When you’re facing glare, normal sunglasses can’t handle it because the sun is just too bright,” he says. Mullin’s sunglasses use a low-energy, light-detecting sensor to alert a tiny microcontroller that tells the liquid crystal lens to darken only a 4-by-6-millimeter rectangle. The rectangle blocks the glare from the eye, moving around the lens as the wearer moves.
When there’s no glare, the glasses act and look like normal sunglasses. All components—sensor, microcontroller, and the battery that powers them—fit into standard sunglass frames.