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October 4, 2018

Worried about your screen use? These glasses block them out wherever you go

by John_A

There are plenty of reasons to be worried about the length of time we spend staring at screens each day. While companies like Apple introduced features like iOS 12’s Screen Time counter, a new Kickstarter campaign offers a more radical way for screen-addicted folks to kick the habit: Block them out altogether.

Inspired by the superpowered, ad-blocking sunglasses from John Carpenter’s 1988 cult movie, They Live, IRL Glasses promise to turn LCD and LED digital screens black. They do this by using horizontal polarized optics. By flattening and rotating the polarized lens 90 degrees, light emitted by these screens is blocked, thereby making it look like the TV or computer in front of you is switched off. At present, this effect works with the majority of televisions and some computers, although it won’t help with with your fancy new OLED smartphone or on digital billboards. That may change in the future, though.

“My good friend and head of product, Scott, was waiting at a food truck back in May 2017, and it had a giant screen blasting Fox News as people waited in line for their food,” creator Ivan Cash told Digital Trends. “He had a strike of inspiration based on an article he had recently read in Wired magazine about polarizer film that blocked screens. Soon after he made a rough mockup. Meanwhile, I’d been thinking about a collective called IRL that would empower people to control tech, not the other way around. We flirted with the idea of collaborating for about six months before I finally decided the idea of screen-blocking glasses was sticky enough to go all-in on. A year later, here we are!”

Cash said that the glasses have already undergone multiple rounds of prototyping. He’s also received interest from some fairly big names, which may dictate the direction the project goes in the future. “We’ve already spoken to optics engineers at Waymo, NASA, and Snap,” Cash continued. “[Our hope is to eventually] develop an advanced pair of IRL Glasses that block all screens, including OLED and smartphones. This is a mission we are dedicated to.”

As ever, we offer our usual warnings about the potential risks inherent in crowdfunding campaigns. However, if you want to support Cash’s mission, head over to the IRL Glasses project page to pledge your, err, cash for a pair of the first-gen glasses. Prices start at $49, with an estimated delivery date of April 2019.

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