Soon, you will never have to worry about swapping out snow goggle lenses to match the changing conditions. With the simple push of a button, Spy and Oakley now enable you to transition through three different tints, leaving with you one goggle, one lens for any day on the mountain.
These new snow goggles work using electrochromic lenses. Unlike photochromic lenses which adjust the tint automatically, these deliver a wider range of visible light transmission (VLT) as well as transition much more quickly. This means you can change the tint of your lenses during a single run, whether you are exiting a glade of trees or emerge from the snowy flat light at the top of the mountain to bright sunshine at the base.
The basic working principle behind electrochromic lenses involves lithium ions (positively charged lithium atoms with missing electrons) that migrate back and forth between electrodes. When a small voltage is applied to the electrodes, the ions migrate through a separator to fill the next electrode layer where they reflect a set amount of light. When the voltage is reversed, they move back to the previous layer.
The Oakley Fall Line XL ($299) uses two electrochromic lenses as part of the company’s new Prizm React technology. By pressing one of two glove-friendly buttons on either side of the goggles, you can transition between light, medium, and dark tints — the range goes from 35% VLT at light to 15% VLT at medium and to 10% at dark. Oakley claims it takes 5-6 seconds to transition between tint levels.
Unlike the Spy goggles, all the Fall Line XL electronics are built into the google frame, including the rechargeable battery with USB port. A haptic motor delivers a buzz confirmation to indicate which tint level you are in — one to three buzzes similar to when you receive a text message on your phone.
Oakley estimates 150-200 changes before you will need to recharge your goggles. If the battery were to die during a run, it will revert to the default state which is the low setting so you won’t end up trying to get down the mountain with dark glasses in a snow storm.
Spy’s Ace EC ($275) features dual electrochromic lenses controlled by a lightweight battery pack attached to the goggle strap. When you press the button, the tint switches between clear, medium, and dark in just four seconds. Spy claims the battery lasts long enough for 150 lens changes.
Expect to see both the new Oakley and Spy electrochromic snow goggles dropping in time for the 2018-2019 ski season.