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See Better to Learn Better: Glasses Reinvented

49 colorful ways to boost education, or what design genius has to do with nixing social stigma.

In 2006, industrial design prodigy Yves Béhar wowed the world with his XO laptop for Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child project — a beautiful intersection of technology, design and education advocacy. Today, fuseproject, Behar’s design studio, unveiled See Better to Learn Better — an eyeglass program developed in partnership with the Mexican government, providing free glasses to the 11% of Mexican children who don’t learn simply because they don’t see.

The new line of glasses, titled Collección Escolar 2010, is guided by the philosophy behind OLPC: durability, customization, and a fun aesthetic that makes the product not only useful but also enjoyable for kids — something all the more important in a culture where glasses are perceived as a handicap and burdened by social stigma.

The glasses feature a two-part frame, with top and bottom colors that can be remixed to reflect each child’s preference for a total of 49 possible color combinations. Innovative interchangeable nose pads make the glasses comfortable for kids with noses of different sizes. Made of hyper-flexible advanced Gilamid plastic, the glasses are practically indestructible.

We wanted to design products that are suited to the children’s specific needs, life and environment. The children receiving these glasses need frames that are durable, ergonomic and have key customization elements like shape and color that make wearing the glasses fun and personal.

The program goes into schools, administers free eye exams to the kids, and encourages them to play with the mix-and-match properties of the glasses. The goal of the partnership is to alleviate families who can’t afford the high prices of typical exams and eyewear, particularly in Mexican states like Sonara, Chiappas and Morellos where the percentage of children in need of corrective eyewear can be upwards of 60%.

We can see with crystal clarity why this is such a brilliant idea.

Published April 28, 2010




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