[FOUNTAIN]Sunglasses and technology

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[FOUNTAIN]Sunglasses and technology

Sunglasses were first developed for American military pilots in the 1920s by an American optical goods maker, Bausch & Lomb. At that time, pilots are said to have suffered greatly because they could not block the strong sunlight during their high-altitude flights. After research, the company succeeded in manufacturing sunglasses for pilots under the brand name “Ray-Ban.”
Since the mid-1930s, the firm has produced sunglasses for the public. As the use of those glasses spread, they have also become a fashion item and are frequently used as movie props.
Recent movies like “The Matrix Reloaded” and “Terminator 3” are typical. Especially in the second Matrix film, each character wore characteristic sunglasses and caught the viewer’s attention. Those glasses were made by Blinde Optics of the Netherlands working with a famous designer. In “Terminator 3,” the sunglasses that Arnold Schwarzenegger wore were developed by Sama Eyewear of America.
Because those sunglasses were made using special titanium materials used in the aerospace industry, they are said to be light and very elastic. They cling to the face like they are part of the body and seem not to slip even during action sequences.
As the movies became hits, the marketers got busy promoting those sunglasses, and not at cheap prices. The sunglasses in the Terminator movie, a model called “T3,” sell for $175 a pair in the United States. Those used in the Matrix film sell for $240 there and even more, 32,000 yen, in Japan. The sunglasses belong to a different class than those mass-produced in China at cheap prices. So, in advertising these high-end products, modifiers like “high-technology” or “highest quality” are used.
Incidentally, all the sunglasses used in the two movies are made in Japan. The manufacturers are small and medium companies in smaller cities. Because they have the world’s best titanium processing technology, they get the orders and deliver them to the world market.
Seoul recently designated 10 industries that would be the growth engines for the next generation. All are high-tech industries, based on the judgment that our future lies there. But high-tech industries do not always have to be grand and predesignated. T3 and Matrix sunglasses show that whatever the industry, it can be high-tech if it is developed.


by Nahm Yoon-ho

The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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