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CES: Bifocals for Early Adopters

Kelli B. Grant

Senior consumer reporter and “Deal of Day” columnist Kelli B. Grant travels to Las Vegas to find the best, the worst, and the most hyped gadgets at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Join her as she roams the exhibit floor for three days, with dispatches here and on Twitter @kellibgrant.

Need proof that the early adoption bug knows no age limits? Even bifocals and progressive lenses are going high tech.

New emPower electronic adjustable glasses have liquid crystal in the lenses, which adjusts prescriptions for distance or close-up vision with a tap of the button on the right earpiece. There’s also a built-in “accelerometer” — the same device that knows whether you’re holding a smartphone vertically or horizontally. Basically, it notes from the tilt of your head whether you’re looking out (for distance) or down (for reading).

But they might not want to focus on the bill, for risk of dropping their new frames in shock. One pair runs a hefty $1,250. (A spokesman says that’s not significantly more than a standard pair of bifocals or progressive lenses in a designer frame, which can easily top $1,000. Plus, he says, wearers are avoiding eye strain that could worsen their vision.) The glasses need a battery that lasts 4-5 days, but they come with a charger.

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  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.