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Barz' ingenious Reader Sunglasses


February 3, 2008

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February 4, 2008 Barz Optics began in the mid-nineties when Australian Kevin Barr recognized the need for purpose-built eye protection for the extreme water sport market. So began an evolving innovation process which has resulted in an array of products to safeguard the eyes of people in a wide range of pursuits involving wind, salt, water, dust, sand and glare.

The company’s products are now must haves for many specialized uses throughout the world, being used by special forces in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan, extreme water sports (PWC racing, Kitesurfing, Sailboarders, Water Skiers, Wake Boarders), mountaineers, skydivers, snowmobile racing, motorcycling and many other extreme circumstances requiring mission critical eye protection.

Now the young Australian company is seeking international distributors so it can take on the world market.

The company’s latest product ingeniously combines polarized sunglasses lenses with non-polarized optical quality +1.5, +2.0 and +2.5 reading lenses so that outdoorsy types can read maps and tie tackle and do all those finicky things that hamper the activities of people who don’t have 20-20 vision – more importantly, the lack of polarization on the reader lenses make it easy to read digital instrumentation, mobile phones, PDAs, GPSs, digital watches ad infinitum.

When we saw them we bought a pair on the spot, and in the subsequent four days we’ve found them so useful that we can see endless applications for the innovative AUD$75 (US$68) specs – and at that price they won’t break the bank if you lose them.

The reader lens sunglasses come in two styles, and both offer amber or grey acetate polarized lenses, while the non-polarized optical quality reading lenses come in +1.5, +2.0 and +2.5

Indeed, the non-polarized reader glasses might become more than a niche market - most people over the age of 40 will tell you that their vision begins to decline from somewhere around that point and a Gallup poll in 2000 found that 70% of American adults wear some type of corrective lens and the figure is 90% for those 50 and over. Worldwide, the vision care industry is worth US$54 billion.

With digital instrumentation, PDAs, smartphones with small screens and hand held GPS functionality finding itself embedded into everything, there’s bound to be a latent demand for these glasses already, and we can vouch for the added functionality – all of a sudden those vague markings on the GPS or the PWC instrumentation become crystal clear – bloody marvelous!

Now there are a few sets of sunglasses that we know of where there is a reader lens insert, such as the Mahaka and HoOkipa ranges from Maiui Jim, but they have the reader lens polarised too, cost a lot more (US$200) and are better suited to more stylish and less active environments – the Barzoptics readers come in more functional, perhaps less stylish, wrap-around form factors and straps to keep them in place when things get extreme come inside the package.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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