I've been fascinated by the "Adspecs" since I first heard of them a few years ago. The glasses have oil-filled lenses which, when adjusted with the attached syringes, allow anyone to dial in their own prescription just by looking at a chart…
For the last few weeks, I've been speaking to the Centre for Vision in the Developing World's Owen Reading about where the project is going… He explained why the Adspecs are such a good solution for developing economies.
"They require very little training to dispense, can be dispensed by an organisation's volunteers in the field, they only need to be delivered once and can make a difference for years afterwards, and are inherently safer (and less valuable on the black market) than items such as prescription medications."
It's the sort of mixture of charity and innovation that makes my heart leap, an opportunity to use the mass production and design capabilities of the developed world to provide a life-changing solution to those who need it—without making those who receive aid dependent on someone else for continued support…
Among all the widgets-of-the-day, the tablets and phones and mail-order furniture, it's easy to forget how technology can make such a profound difference in people's lives. So let's not forget.
Indeed, let’s not. Read the whole thing.
As Joel mentions, these are glasses are still undergoing iterative improvements and need quality enhancements to ensure ruggedness. Maybe there’s a way to build hollow frames which store the oil rather than storing it in syringes? I wonder how easy these things are to clean?
Here’s a video explaining more of how they work and what they do:
This is a brilliantly simple idea that has the potential to impact the lives of millions in the developing world.