Visual Impact At 102 MPH, Oakley Presents at Volvo SportsDesign Forum


Picture a five-inch metal spike flying toward you, or a quarter-inch steel shot targeting you at 102 mph. This isn’t medieval mayhem, it’s modern science. Those are two of the lens tests demonstrated by Oakley President Colin Baden at this year’s Volvo SportsDesign Forum. Held in Germany, the forum honored extraordinary sport products and concepts developed to protect the body. With its heritage in action sports, Oakley was a natural for show-and-tell.

The two tests for impact protection demonstrated the durability of Oakley lenses, but as Baden explained, "the best protection is seeing the danger in the first place, and avoiding it. That’s the benefit of Oakley’s High Definition Optics® (HDO®)."

“There are objective tests to analyze optical performance,” said Baden to the crowd of international attendees. “The holy grail of lens design is a 100-percent score in all of them. That’s easier said than done. You could build the world’s best safety lens to protect against impact, but if it corrupts vision, you’re missing the mark.”

Baden went on to demonstrate the key benefits of Oakley HDO® using standardized tests. With one called “Refractive Power,” the Oakley president showed how ordinary lenses act like prescription optics you don’t need. Over-the-counter sunglasses magnified and distorted the lines of a test pattern. The sharpest and truest image came when Baden showed the pattern through Oakley lenses with HDO®.

In the next test, Baden shot lasers through the lenses of eyewear made by various sunglass manufacturers. This demonstrated how ordinary lenses bend light and make objects appear shifted from their true position. Even worse, if the two lenses in a frame bend light in different directions, your brain works harder to put the two images together.

“It’s called the Prism effect,” said Baden. “The eyestrain and headaches it causes are the least of your worries. With inferior lenses, nothing in your view is where you see it.” When Baden applied the same test to Oakley sunglasses with HDO®, the lasers hit the target precisely where they were supposed to, indicating no bending of light and clearly superior optics.

“People don’t realize how ordinary sunglasses can corrupt their view of the world,” said Baden as he proved it further with the Clarity Test. He showed how inferior sunglass lenses blur the lines of a test pattern at a relatively short distance. Oakley’s HDO® lenses maintained clarity at a far greater distance than any other brand tested.

Baden described how the world’s leading aviation magazine used these same standardized tests for a technical study of sunglasses. Private Pilot sent a wide range of eyewear to an independent lab for analysis. The result: Oakley eyewear beat all competition in every category. The magazine repeated the tests a year later, and once again Oakley came out on top in every category.

The Oakley president spoke about other benefits of HDO®, including his company’s proprietary lens material. It’s called Plutonite®, and it’s the most optically pure material used in eyewear today. For protection, Oakley Plutonite® inherently blocks 100% of all UVA, UVB, UVC and harmful blue light up to 400 nm.

Then came the spike and steel shot tests. Nothing could drive home the concept of HDO® protection better than a little mayhem, and Baden took pleasure in describing how Oakley Plutonite® lenses withstood a 12-gauge at 15 yards with no penetration whatsoever

The metal spike test showed how Oakley eyewear helps protect against impact from heavy objects, such as the tip of a ski. The steel shot test demonstrated protection against high velocity impact, such as speeding into rockslide pebbles while mountain biking.

Baden concluded, “I have talked about lab setups and testing data. The true credibility is on the ski slopes, the mountain bike paths, the ball fields and the skate parks. When it comes to performance and protection, High Definition Optics® proves its worth whenever professional athletes choose Oakley eyewear, not because they are paid to do so, but because it pays to do so.”


Staff Writer


January 28, 2006

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