Whenever economists are asked why they love markets, they inevitably respond that “markets lead to prosperity” or that “markets efficiently allocate resources” or some other such answer than one could find by reading a textbook. What I love about markets is sometimes mundane (I love one-size-fits-all soft drink lids, for example) and other times technologically impressive. In other words, what I especially love about markets is the innovation that they inspire. I was reminded of this reading the WSJ this morning:
For more than 100 years, researchers have tried to come up with adjustable eyeglasses; a Baltimore inventor filed a patent on the idea in 1866. But a workable product that’s easy to adjust, thin, lightweight and accurate proved elusive.
Stephen Kurtin, a California inventor who previously devised one of the first word-processing programs, turned to the problem in the early 1990s. His solution, TruFocal eyeglasses, mimic the way that the lens of the human eye stretches and contracts to adjust focus.
Once the TruFocal lenses are adjusted, the entire field of vision is in focus, unlike bifocals and progressive lenses, which keep only a limited area in sharp focus. So a user can adjust the glasses to focus only on the book he’s reading, then look up and readjust them to focus solely on the TV across the room.