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Tuesday
Jan112011

Foresight in eyewear

These are no ordinary sunglasses. In fact, they’re not sunglasses at all. They are Oakley’s state-of-the-art, limited-edition 3D Gascan glasses – or ‘optical devices’, as Oakley’s CEO Colin Baden calls them. Baden is pretty excited about seeing the world in 3D. ‘It’s here, and it’s here to stay,’ he says of the burgeoning industry.

Oakley Gascan glasses, from £95

3D technology has quickly become ubiquitous in film, with every director eager to get a finger in this very lucrative pie. ‘Everybody wants to do something in 3D,’ says Baden. But production companies are just taking 2D movies and making them 3D in post-production. You have to shoot 3D in a completely different way to 2D if you’re really going to get the benefit of the art.

And to really get the benefit of the art, you’re going to need eyewear. Jeffrey Katzenberg – CEO of Dreamworks Animation and former studio chairman at the Walt Disney Corporation – approached Baden about his plans to move Californian brand Oakley into the 3D sector. Baden said he needed to invent something first.

‘We have 600 optical patents for a reason,’ reminds Baden. ‘If we’re going to put something new in the marketplace, then we want to make it measurably better than everybody else’s.’

Three years later, Baden has launched Oakley’s 3D Gascan eyewear, in collaboration with Disney’s blockbuster Tron: Legacy – a re-working of the 1982 classic.

Oakley’s 3D glasses set a new benchmark in optical technology, enabling unprecedented clarity, razor-sharp vision and the elimination of distortion and glare. ‘People read “3D” and think it’s stuff jumping out at you,’ says Baden, ‘but that’s not what it’s about any more. It’s about seeing depth. Creating that sense of the real world.’ And the curvature of the lens further facilitates this, allowing the viewer a full, panoramic view of the screen, meaning you can get on with enjoying the film and let Oakley’s HDO-3D patented technology do the work for you.

And they don’t look bad either. A chic, lightweight design in matt black or winter white, they resemble sunglasses you’d expect to see on the slopes of St Moritz, not in the dark recesses of a picturehouse

But are people really going to buy their own 3D glasses? Baden thinks so. ‘There is enough content out there to make the investment worthwhile,’ he says, adding that 3D technology is moving out of the cinema, and into television sets, computers and gaming devices, with significant launches expected over the next couple of years.

‘I want Oakley to be the go-to brand when it comes to the optical device you need to enjoy 3D,’ declares Baden. And with Oakley’s competitive spirit, it’s hard to doubt him. 3D Gascan glasses from £95, uk.oakley.com.