PixelOptic EmPower


I’ve had several people ask me about the PixelOptics EmPower glasses that are suppose to ship sometime in the next 6 months. There seems to be a lot of confusion about what they are and how they work. Some people believe they’re an electronic version of the Superfocus glasses. They are not.

The EmPower glasses use a liquid crystal film embedded in the composite lens to change the refractive power of the lens in small area of the lens about the same size as the reading area in a bifocal. When the power is added to the LCF, it changes the refractive properties lens in the reading area of the bifocal and when the power is turned off, the reading portion of the lens disappears. EmPower glasses are not a true variable focus eyeglasses across a +2.75 add. Based on what I have been told by PixelOptics, the lens has a distance and intermediate field of vision without the near field turned on.

One of the things I like about my SuperFocus glasses is I can change the focal power based on what I am doing. So during the day I can change the intermediate focal power while I’m working computer to reduce eye strain later in the day.  I can’t do that with my progressives, and apparently not with the PixelOptics lenses either.

PixelOptics is using Panasonic lenses and Aspex frames. The Aspex frames are limited to the ones that can house a battery and the wiring for the lens. The base price of the glasses is expected to be $1200 and and up.  I think these maybe better than my progressives, but how much better I’m not sure. It’s also hard to tell how well the intermediate focus works, which is a key to my working on the computer all day. They do not allow changing the sphere power of the distance, intermediate and close portion of the lens, which is why I bought the Superfocus in the first place. They also have some limitations on how much the add can be increased from the intermediate sphere. I believe it’s +0.75, which my case would not be enough, if I have interpreted their explanations correctly.

They have to be placed in a charger every night to keep the battery powered up.

It appears these are targeted to a different part of the eyeglass user market.

Until they ship and users have time to report on their effectiveness, there is no way to know how well they work. They’ve done small sample testing on them and the users like them, but it’s hard to tell what lenses they were compared to. Progressive and bifocal lenses are not all created equally. I buy very expensive progressive lenses that are digitally ground on both sides to my specific measurements. There is a big difference in those and the typical lower cost progressives.

I’ll check them out as soon as they ship. Their shipping date has been postponed several times over the last few years so I’m not sure they’ll ship in April.

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  1. avatar Bhaven
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    hello sir,

    i am quite curious to know whether you have actually taken a demo of empower.


  2. avatar BillyBob
    Posted February 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    The ones I saw demonstrated were prototypes. (I didn’t get to wear a pair.) There weren’t any production models out yet. They’re still working on those, I guess. The marketing manager I’ve been talking to will answer only a limited few questions about them. I’ve signed up for a dispensing package that might actually explain the limitations of the glasses. I have no idea how long it will take to get that out, but at $1200 a pair I don’t think the market in that price range is very big.

    They keep going around doing demonstrations on every TV show, web cam and trade show they can find, but they really don’t say much of any significance.