New Sunglasses Make PC, TV Screens Invisible

John Lister's picture

A new pair of sunglasses aims to block out screens such as TV sets and computers. It's a real product, though it's as much an art and culture project than a true business idea.

The glasses work in a similar fashion to polarized lenses in ordinary sunglasses, which block out the most intense reflected lights from the sun. With sunglasses the idea is to block any light that's reflected off a surface such as the ground or sea, thus reducing the overall brightness.

Glasses Turn Screens Black

With these special glasses, however, the lenses are flat rather than curved and are rotated 90 degrees. The effect is to completely block the light coming out of an LCD or LED screen (making it appear switched off) while still allowing other light through. It's based on an existing technology for putting film on office windows so that passers-by can't see what employees inside are doing on their computers. (Source:

The glasses are the work of IRL ("In Real Life"), an art collective that aims to provoke debate over technology. It's previously worked on projects such as one that turned emails into handwritten lettering to make people think about the different attitudes to emails and traditional letters. (Source:

Phones Not Yet Covered

The initial batch of glasses will cost $79, with a discount for those who order early. They are described as a "beta edition" that blocks out most televisions and some computers, but not yet phones. The idea is to use the revenue from these to develop an improved edition that can block out phone screens and electronic billboards.

The latter feature would be particularly notable as the artists acknowledge the glasses are partly inspired by the 1988 movie "They Live," in which characters who donned special sunglasses were able to see subliminal advertising exposed. (They could also see which people were aliens rather than humans, though it's unlikely the new glasses will have such a feature).

What's Your Opinion?

Is this a worthwhile exercise or a pointless stunt? If you had such a pair of glasses and they really worked as billed, would you ever wear them? Can you think of any more useful ways to harness this technology?

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Dennis Faas's picture

The idea is interesting, mostly because I really enjoyed watching "They Live" back in the late 80's. That said, I don't really see the idea being widely used or adopted, other than to have the user wear the glasses for a day in order to live the experience (experiment). In doing so, it could be used as a tool to teach kids (and adults) that it's OK to live life without the technological umbilical cord permanently affixed.

Navy vet's picture

A solution in search of a problem.

Navy vet's picture

I have been using the Dark mode and find it easier on the eyes. I was looking forward to this update because Microsoft was expanding the dark mode to file explorer windows. On the 3 computers that I just updated, when viewing a file explorer window the icon labels are in black text and are almost impossible to read against the dark background. In all the articles that I've seen that are touting this new feature, the screen shots show the text and labels in white text which is easy to read against the dark background. How can I get the white text?

glen's picture

I recently got a pair of Polaroid sunglasses and found that I can't read my Garmin GPS with them while driving! What a waste of money and PITA!

David's picture

I noticed a while back that my polarized clip-ons can do something similar. When tilted at the correct angle computer monitors appear almost completely black. A great way to make work just disappear.