Back in 2010, Uvex came out with the Variotronic ski goggles that change both color and transparency through the push of a button. At Eurobike last month, the company announced they are now bringing a version of the technology to sunglasses next spring. The Variotronic sunglasses adapt to the surrounding light conditions in a fraction of a second, either automatically or through the push of a button.
Originally developed for the United States Air Force by AlphaMicron, the Variotronic sunglass technology uses a liquid crystal laminate with electrochromatic activation–meaning they can change tint from light to dark in less than 0.1 seconds with an electronic impulse or the simple push of a button. The liquid crystals are also connected to a photocell light sensor that will automatically change the tint of the glasses based on the external light conditions, also in less than 0.1 seconds.
The light setting transmits 64% of light, while the tinted lenses will only allow 16% of light to pass through. As one of my favorite local rides heads home through a dark tunnel, it would be great to change the tint of my sunglasses with the push of a button before entering instead of having to remove my glasses completely–even my regular photochromic ones don’t react quick enough.
The Variotronic sunglasses run on an integrated battery that lasts up to 50 hours and is Micro-USB rechargeable.
The Uvex Variotronic Sports Shield sunglasses will retail for €299.95 in Europe and most likely a similar price in USD. The technology will also be available in a full frame version optimized for mountain biking. I look forward to checking them out in person at Interbike next week.