When was it that every store decided to throw a TV into the mix?

I don’t remember being able to catch the latest news during a haircut five years ago, nor do I particularly like that 80% of my viewing space in bars is obscured by a number of different football screens. Many stores don’t even require you to enter to catch up on commercials anymore; with HDTVs placed outside of windows, there’s no escaping the barrage of product placement and constant advertisement.

And, sure, people will tell you to ‘stay off your phone’ or ‘get off your computer’… But when doing so will still result in you staring at all those 4k TV’s at Walmart or catching wind of an animated billboard while driving, are you really stick sticking it to technology?

It’s time we took a few steps towards removing the ever-intrusive screens from our lives. Or, rather, its time someone else took those steps, and we took the steps to get in on those steps. It’s time for a return to real life. It’s time for the IRL Glasses.

While they might appear at first glance to be nothing more than a pair of traditional sunglasses, the IRL Glasses hide their true power under the surface: Equipped with a special light screen, these glasses will provide near-total blockage from any images produced by electronic screens. In short: Putting on the glasses and turning on your TV means you won’t see your TV turn on. The blockage is so good – so imperceptibly complete – that you won’t be able to tell whether the device is actually on. Stop squinting through the glasses – aside from taking them off, there’s no way to discern the motions of a screen through these selective lenses. You’re totally cut off from the onscreen world, and by cutting yourself off, you can stay much more connected to the real one.

At first, such a total disconnect from a screen-infested world might be scary or disorienting – one might be worried of what they could be missing out on, or scared that they might miss an important news update or message. But, over time, positive effects will start to set in. For one, you’ll notice that you have much more time to establish a genuine human connection than you did before – an average of over ten hours more, to be specific. According to a study conducted by the New York Times in 2018, the average American spends 11 hours per day looking into a screen – That’s a lot of time given to advertisers and companies, companies who want to maximize that time to increase the chances of you buying their products.

Cutting yourself off from these 2D distractions means you’ve got more time to focus on what’s most important – You, your friends, and those you care about most.

However, the product does come with some limitations. In particular, the Kickstarter page lists one major limitation, but there’s another major limitation that is more social than physical.

The physical limitation is in the type of screens the glasses are able to block. At the moment, they are able to block almost all  TV screens, some computer screens, and no smartphone screens. This makes a bit of sense, as getting a text alert and pulling out your phone only to not be able to see what’s on the screen sounds much more annoying than convenient, but it does mean that these products are not yet able to block out every screen in existence. This is, however, something the developers have stated that they wish to improve upon in future iterations.

The second limitation lies in the physical appearance of the glasses, or should I say the sunglasses. While they might make a genuine human connection in a screen-filled interior feel much easier for the wearer, the conversing strangers won’t be able to instantly understand why you’re wearing a pair of sunglasses in a well-lit interior. Even if you explain it to them, wearing sunglasses in a conversation makes it harder for the other person to focus on your eyes, which makes the conversation feel more artificial and less emotionally resonant.

The glasses are available now on Kickstarter for $49, $30 off their on-release $79 shelf price. They are expected to ship to backers sometime around April 2019.

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I’m a nerd with a wild sense of humor. I’m very good at running tabletop games (Like Dungeons & Dragons), or at least that’s what my players would tell you. I spend about as much time writing new content for those games as I do working on jobs or internships, and love every second of it. I'm a lover of dogs and mint chocolate chip, and my favorite dinosaur is the ankylosaurus. I also play racquetball with friends at least four times a week, go to the gym six times a week, and go for jogs around the neighborhood when I have time, because health is important and stuff. Eat them greens, yo.
  • Liz

    An interesting idea! Like the social limitation raised, I’m not sure how practical these glasses are though I definitely see the use when navigating public spaces