The Wink Glasses: As good as caffeine?

Japanese company strives to satisfy the I-don't-want-to-fall-asleep-at-my-PC crowd with glasses that fog up a lens when you haven't blinked in five seconds.

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore is based in Portland, Oregon, and has written for Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and public radio. Her semi-obscure hobbies include climbing, billiards, board games that take up a lot of space, and piano.
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
2 min read

Most of us spend several hours a day peering into a screen. Whether we're working, gaming, chatting, or entering a semivegetative movie-watching state, we tend to blink about once every five seconds. If we grow bored, drowsy, or just less focused, that rate slows, which puts a serious strain on our eyes.

Enter the Wink Glasses, comprising a USB-powered device (with an eight-hour charge) that fogs one of its lenses the moment the user hasn't blinked in five seconds. This forces the other eye to focus instantly, which is one way to jolt someone back to wakefulness. Japan's Masunaga Optical Manufacturing reportedly plans to release the Wink Glasses with their support frames to the Japanese market on August 10 for a total of just less than $430, or 40,950 yen.

The USB-charged Wink Glasses are designed to keep you awake by making you refocus. Masunaga Optical Manufacturing

Somewhat paradoxically, news of this gadget has the video-gaming world all atwitter (or is it "ablinking"?). It turns out that we tend to blink less frequently not only when we have grown bored or sleepy, but also in the opposite circumstance, when we are hyper-focused, pumped with adrenaline, trying to see every movement of every supervillain dashing across even the most remote corners of the screen.

Of course, we all know that blinking too much can cost you a presidential election, so each person should probably weigh eye health (blink more) with professional success (blink less) on an individual basis.

I haven't had a chance to try these out yet, and while I love the idea of the Wink Glasses, it seems reasonable to assume that they would be mildly annoying for typical users at best and frustrating for hypervigilant gamers at worst.

Still, how many times a day does the average person drift off into a five-second-plus nonblinking daydream? Surely, this fogging device will boost productivity, not to mention help with those eye-straining headaches to which we've all grown begrudgingly accustomed.

This begs the question: won't the boss want to buy these for every employee, along with the office Coke machine and coffeemaker? It could bring a whole new meaning to that all-seeing eye, which something tells me does not fog over.