Developed from a product used by the US Special Forces and endorsed by Tour de France winner Andy Schleck, CTRL ONE are tint-changing glasses that use cutting-edge liquid crystal technology to adapt to changing light conditions.
The product of US based company CTRL Eyewear, CTRL ONE glasses are on their way to market after a successful Indiegogo fundraising campaign that raised in excess of $500,000. They're now available for general pre-order for those who like being near the front of the queue.
The big selling point of these glasses has two facets: the ability to change the lens tint, and the rapidity with which the tint changes – a reputed 0.1 seconds between two different settings.
There are other photochromic lenses on the market that adapt to different light conditions, but these can take several seconds to change. In the fast pace of a cycling race this could translate to several seconds of impeded vision at a crucial moment in the action.
Luxembourg ex-pro cyclist Andy Schleck, winner of the 2010 Tour de France, is a supporter of the product and the concept behind it, stating on the CTRL ONE site that in his opinion "in two years the entire peloton will use this type of eyewear".
Incorporating liquid crystal technology
The lenses are made from polycarbonate and use liquid crystal technology to adapt the tint to different light conditions (CTRL ONE calls this e-Tint). This can be done manually to factory or individually-set levels, or set to change automatically, using an integrated silicon photodiode sensor. You can even turn the tint-changing function off all together.
There are two lens colour choices – neutral or orange – and the lenses also have anti-fog and anti-reflective coating, and are UV-resistant.
Powered by a rechargeable lithium polymer battery, CTRL ONE claims a full one-hour charge time should provide 70 hours of operational time. The battery can be recharged using the included micro-USB cable.
The high-impact nylon frame comes in either a black and red or black version, and there’s also an Andy Schleck custom option, which has a fetching chrome-finish with blue/purple lenses.
For those who need prescription lenses, there is also the option to purchase a prescription add-on which sits just inside the glasses on the face.
Andy Schleck signature version
CTRL ONE is now taking advance orders for the glasses, with a basic pair costing a reasonable $200, a one-third saving on the on eventual retail price of $300. An Andy Schleck signature version is also available, which will set you back $225, rising to $325. The prescription mount add-on comes in at $10, and with all the glasses you get a microfibre lens cloth/storage bag, a hardshell storage case and a charging cable.
You may have to wait a while for your glasses though. CTRL ONE has had so many orders that, it indicates on its Indiegogo project page, it may take three months for the glasses to ship because they're hand-assembled in the US. On the upside, that puts them in time for the 2016 racing season.