Eyewear Review: Switch Magnetic Interchange Lens System

Tech Clothing Fashion

Last year I went to CES in Las Vegas as part of a SCOTTEVEST No Baggage Challenge for Charity. Because I could only bring what I was able to carry in my SeV clothing I had to leave behind a number of items that would normally go with me on a trip. Among the items left? My sunglasses. It only took a few hours of being in Vegas to realize that I needed a pair. I walked into a Sunglass Hut and said, “What’s on closeout?” Even steeply discounted I spent $100 that day. The sunglasses have held up well but have one particular annoyance that has bugged me from the start- when I am wearing them I can only use my iPad in landscape. That’s right, because the sunglasses are Polarized when my iPad is held in a portrait orientation the screen looks black. It may sound like a small thing but since my iPad has all but replaced paper for me it is more than a minor annoyance. As a result, when I was using my iPad I often found myself taking the sunglasses off.

The best solution for this, of course, would be to have Polarized sunglasses for the majority of time but a second pair of unpolarized sunglasses whenever I’m using the iPad. But that would mean carrying to pair of sunglasses right? Wrong. All I need are a pair of sunglasses from a New Jersey-bases company called SWITCH. SWITCH makes eyewear that… well we will get to that in a moment. First, here’s a video.

 

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From Switch:

Because One Lens Is Not Enough: The world’s first eyewear with a Magnetic Interchange Lens System™ – for unparalleled convenience, speed and ease of use: an idea born of necessity.

The inventors of Switch demanded better sunwear options. Traditional fixed lens sunglasses work well in some light conditions, but not others.

Mechanical interchange lens systems are clumsy and can be difficult to use. Contact lens wearers need plano sunglasses some days and Rx suns on others. Between carrying around multiple, bulky sunglasses, and pulling and prying mechanical interchange lenses in and out, we felt there had to be a better way.

Then it came to us: “Magnets!”

So we built a prototype with embedded magnets in the sunglass lens and frame to test our theory. As we brought the magnetic interchange lenses close to the sunglass frame, they literally jumped into place.

It took us over three years to perfect the idea and to make sure that real users – serious runners, skiers, bikers, hikers, climbers, kayakers, golfers, and tennis players as well as active weekend warriors – would love them as much as we do. We also tested hundreds of different sunglass lenses to identify the best ones for the widest range of activities, selecting those that would provide the best visual information for sports performed in glare, sun and shade. The result: the world’s first magnetic interchange sunglass collection created for – and by – active outdoor athletes.

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The Lenses:

Switch magnets make changing lenses quick and easy, yet hold lenses in place securely.

Switch uses high-energy magnets embedded in the lens and frame to enable users to swap lenses quickly and easily as light conditions and activities change. Switch lenses will literally jump into place when brought close to the frame, but will stay put once the lenses have snapped into position. Switch magnetic interchange lenses have been engineered to stay in the frame when dropped from a height of six feet or subjected to the intense, repeated jarring of skiing, snowboarding, running or mountain biking.

We know all about the beating your lenses can take while you’re carving a slope or pounding along a cross-country trail, so the designers at Switch have created the world’s first magnetic LensPod™ to carry and protect your lenses. The contoured pod easily fits into your pocket and pops open to allow you to dock your lenses…smart!

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When you look at the sunglasses from the front they look like any other pair of sport sunglasses.

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That’s true from the side too. If you grab the frames in one hand and the lens in the other and then you try to pull them apart…

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Try THAT with any other pair of sunglasses. Yes, at this point were this a standard pair of sunglasses you would be tossing them in the garbage. Not so with the SWITCH sunglasses.

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The key to the system are the magnets embedded in each lens.

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Here’s a closer look. The magnets grab the inside of the frame and literally snap the lenses in place. They hold so well that there is little or no chance of them coming out unless you consciously want them to come out.

The lenses you are looking at here are polarized. The review sample was shipped with a second pair of lenses that are not polarized. These make them perfect if I am using my iPad outside.

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They come in a nifty little carrying case that protects the lenses and lets you keep the spar pair with you in your bag or jacket. Then, if you need the other lenses, you can simply swap them out. Of course the lenses are held inside the case, you guessed it, magnetically.

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You can order specific lenses and then pick your frame. The lenses start at $40 and go up to a bit over $100 a pair. The alternative is to buy one of the SWITCH sunglass kits. For example, the Avalanche frames with three pair of lenses are available on Amazon for an MSRP of $248.95 and a street price of $124.48. The SWITCH Vision Headwall frames are available with three different lenses for an MSRP of $168.95 and a street price of $84.47.

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I am rather impressed with the design and the flexibility of the SWITCH sunglass system. The frames are nicely made, feel quite rugged and durable and are rather comfortable. (As I put it to Elana, I have, in the past, had sunglasses that all but disappeared when I wore them. That isn’t quite the case here as they are comfortable but I know they are there.) The ability to change lenses is rather unique and, as I discovered over the last week, not a gimmick. It really does make a difference. And with most of the sunglass kits selling for a steep discount on Amazon you can effectively buy three pair of quality sunglasses for less than I paid in Vegas for a closeout pair from another company.

MSRP: Lens range in price from $40-$115; Sunglass kits have a wide ranging price and are heavily discounted

What I Like: Comfortable; Quick-swap lenses let you have multiple pair of sunglasses at the same time; Nice variety of frame choices

What Needs Improvement: Too many lens and frame choices

About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him.

1 Comment on "Eyewear Review: Switch Magnetic Interchange Lens System"

  1. These sound awesome. But I guess I’m either too rough on my shades, too clumsy, or maybe I buy too cheap sunglasses, but I never seem to be able to keep a pair of shades longer than 2 years. They usually break. So I’d be a little nervous investing that much money into something I can’t seem to protect. Maybe I would protectect them more if I paid more. Who knows, it’s one of those nuture/nature debates.

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