Laser safety goggles are protective eyewear that shield the eye from the hazards of working with various laser-based technologies. Protection is achieved by increasing the optical densities (absorbance of light) of the goggle medium to reduce the laser irradiance or intensity while still allowing visible light transmissivity. Despite their availability, current safety goggles are very limiting due to restricted protection for a select range of wavelengths and visible light transmissivity. For example, a pair of goggles can be effective for a 1064 nm wavelength with an optical density of 6 which reduces light transmittance to 50%, while another pair may be used for 1064 nm, 940 nm, and 800-810 nm with an optical density of 7 which reduces the light transmittance to 30%. While they do offer protection from an increased number of wavelengths, the latter example does result in other safety issues related to safety equipment-induced reduced visibility. This means existing safety goggles limit the type of laser you could use (or vice versa), since each goggle is restricted to a distinct wavelength to provide effective protection and visibility. Due to multiple lasers being utilized in industrial and academic workspaces, it is critical for next level protective eyewear to span the full spectrum of wavelengths without limiting secondary visibility. Therefore, there is a present market need for a product that provides protection for a wider range of laser wavelengths while still enabling effective visibility of the surrounding environment.
Researchers at the University of New Mexico have re-designed laser safety goggles to provide Universal Laser Protective Eyewear (ULPE). ULPE covers a large number of wavelengths and can provide full-color vision based on the full lighting levels available in the room. The eyewear are optically opaque and provide internal LCD (liquid crystal display)/OLED (organic light-emitting diode) viewing screens. ULPE is designed in the likeness of virtual reality (VR) headsets; however, instead of VR, the feed consists of actual reality (natural and peripheral vision) processed by externally placed cameras. Image processing may require a computer mounted backpack or a RF (Bluetooth or Wi-Fi) to a computer in the room. The proposed design also provides extra safety precautions, including thermal sensors that may detect the thermal effects of a direct laser strike on the eyewear and activate an audible warning. This solution risks cameras instead of human eyeballs, enables retaining the ability to see under the actual light conditions within any given room, and is effective for all laser wavelengths, power levels, and types.
Name: Andrew Roerick