Inventor Creates Sunglasses That Make People Colorblind

COLORBLIND?: If you can't see the number within this image, you are colorblind. (Photo: Melissa Gray/Flickr).

Seeing the world through someone else's eyes may have just gotten easier, thanks to the invention of new sunglasses that allow people with normal vision to experience colorblindness, according to

The glasses, which were invented by researcher Shigeki Nakauchi of Toyohashi Tech University, recently won the 2011 Award for Science and Technology by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan, a prestigious award given by the Japanese government.

The idea of inventing glasses that induce a handicap may seem unusual, but the tool could greatly improve the ability of normal-sighted developers to make society's infrastructure more accessible to people who are colorblind. The glasses will help perfect a Color Universal Design (CUD) for use in creating things for use by the general public including printed materials, signs or textbooks.

The invention looks like a set of futuristic high-tech sunglasses, and it works via a specialized filter that modifies the optical spectrum. Developers call the glasses, which come in the form of eyeglasses and glass loupes, "The Variantor." The technology has already been developed for commercial use.

Roughly 200 million people around the world experience some form of colorblindness, or color vision deficiency. In some places, such as in Romania or Bulgaria, people with colorblindness cannot legally receive a driver's license due to concerns about their ability to discern the colors of traffic signals or street signs. Even in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that pilots be tested for normal color vision before being granted a non-restricted pilot's license.

An improved CUD infrastructure could help to end these kinds of restrictions for colorblind people.