A few years ago while living in London, a friend introduced me to the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square.
It’s an independent theatre known for playing cult classics and corny sing-a-longs. The first film I saw there was John Carpenter’s 1988 film They Live.
This cult science fiction movie sees the protagonist come across a box of glasses, of which he takes a pair. As he walks down the street, he realises that the glasses reveal subliminal messages behind the advertisements on the streets and billboards – messages created by aliens who live among them. The glasses allow him to see their true faces, too.
The film was an early influence on artist Ivan Cash, who has designed IRL Glasses: a pair of glasses that makes LCD/LED screens appear to be switched off through the use of horizontal polarisation.
“The light emitted from most LCD and LED displays is vertically polarized. This means the light wave is travelling up and down along a vertical axis,” IRL’s head of product, Scott Blew, told Motherboard.
“To block this light [what you see on the screen] we use a horizontal polarizing filter. You can imagine the filter as a fence with horizontal slats. Because the slats are oriented along the opposite axis [horizontally vs vertically] the light waves cannot pass through the slats.”
In other words, the glasses will allow you to walk down the street, browse shops and sit in bars without being accosted by glaring screens and endless advertising. Cash is interested in making spaces screen-free and sacred once again, rather than bogged down by “isolation and disconnection”.
The glasses, currently in Beta, will block out most LCD/LED TVs and computers. They won’t block smartphones or digital billboards that use OLED technology – but Cash and his team are working on this.
The glasses, perhaps disappointingly, don’t promise to reveal the aliens living among us. However, they do hope to give power back to the people to control what images and information we are being fed on a daily basis.
“IRL Glasses are not just a product, they’re a statement,” Cash continues in his chat with Motherboard.
“Life isn’t meant to be lived in 2D… We’re showing the world we need and deserve a product that allows people to control technology, not the other way around.”
After months of development and five different prototypes, which were tested by family and friends, Cash says they have finally settled on a design that uses the glasses from They Live as the main inspiration.
The IRL team has set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise more funds forfurther research and development.
You now have two jobs: watch They Live, then go and support these guys!
Lead image: IRL Glasses