04/13/2012 04:10 pm ET

emPower Smartglasses: The Glasses That Change Prescription

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a lot of boomers are going to see the latest product from PixelOptics as a pretty beautiful innovation. The Roanoke, Va.-based company is bringing smartphone technology to eyeglasses, allowing users to change prescriptions with a quick swipe or touch to the temple. The emPower glasses even plug in so the internal battery can charge overnight.

As opposed to old-school bifocals or semi-new-school progressive lenses, emPower glasses let wearers switch focus according to distances, and can even toggle automatically for varied-distance activities such as playing golf or climbing stairs.

With a reading zone constructed of LCD materials and smartphone-like interfaces, the wearer activates the visual zone by tapping the temple of the frame and or can swipe the frame to activate the mini accelerometer that senses the zone when the wearer tilts his or her head.

The company expects the product to hit a sweet spot with consumers over 40, the age at which presbyopia, the inability to focus on near objects, usually sets in. According to Richard Clompus, PixelOptic's vice president of global professional affairs, more than 50 million pairs of progressive lenses are sold every year to this demographic.

Initial feedback has been positive. "Consumers have told us that emPower produces the best vision they have ever had," Clompus said.

While Clompus said private eye-care practitioners will determine the price for consumers, the glasses will reportedly go for around $1,300 and are expected to be available later this year.