They Live Piper Sunglasses

These They Live-inspired glasses are here to chew bubble gum and kick ads — and they’re all out of bubble gum

Contributed by
Oct 4, 2018, 10:06 AM EDT

Of all the prescient images John Carpenter's ever created, the ability to see the Orwellian power of an alien-controlled state simply by donning a pair of special sunglasses may be the most iconic.

Roddy Piper’s John Nada gets fed up, and fast, with being manipulated by society’s secret overlords in They Live, Carpenter’s dystopian horror classic about taking the power back — and now a company is drawing inspiration from that idea to develop a crowdfunded pair of screen-changing peepers called IRL Glasses.

The brainchild of interactive artist and filmmaker Ivan Cash, IRL Glasses take They Live’s concept of revealing what’s hidden and flip it on its head, aiming instead to filter out the barrage of screen-based advertising come-ons that beckon from every street corner and storefront.

IRL Glasses Example 1


IRL Glasses Example 2


“IRL Glasses put you in the driver's seat to control when and how you engage with screens,” the Kickstarter’s campaign page explains. “…The design for IRL Glasses is unique and iconic, inspired by the 1988 cult classic film, THEY LIVE, where a magical pair of glasses blocks ads.”

How does it work? By tweaking the common formula for creating polarized sunglasses. The glasses are capable of blocking out LCD and LED screens by employing “horizontal polarized optics,” according to Cash, “flattening and rotating the polarized lens 90 degrees” to block the light emitted by screens to make it appear as though “the TV or computer in front of you is off.”

The campaign already had reached its $25,000 funding goal as of Oct. 3, so now it’s heading into stretch goal territory, which nets investors a “bespoke lenticular design” glasses case. A $49 contribution will snag you the basic set of IRL glasses, though ponying up $499 will give you a “one-of-a-kind limited edition” designer pair.

The glasses are still in the beta stage, with Cash assuring investors that they already are capable of blocking “most TVs (LCD/LED) and some computers (LCD/LED).” The glasses don’t yet filter out OLED screens used by some billboards and smartphones, but they’re working on it.

For much more on how IRL Glasses work, including loads of images showing the shades in action, head on over to the crowdfunding page. Or just hit up your favorite digital platform and watch They Live put Carpenter’s original truth-filtering glasses through their illusion-shattering paces.