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I regrettably designed my own glasses on a smartphone app

I regrettably designed my own glasses on a smartphone app
Mat Smith
Mat Smith|@thatmatsmith|April 8, 2015 3:05 PM

JINS is a glasses maker on a mission: to make glasses worth talking about again. That usually entails a dash of technology thrown in; a few years ago, for instance, the company dotted spectacle-selling vending machines across Tokyo. Yes, it's a Japanese company. Yes, they're also dabbling in smartglasses. But I'm not talking about any of that this time. No, I took a whole 10 minutes designing my own pair of glasses on the company's "Paint" app, and then a week later, I was wearing them. It's not nearly as elaborate as, say, 3D printing, but it does offer a relatively cheap way of making yourself a one-of-a-kind pair of glasses. And mine probably would have looked better, if I had even a single creative bone in my body.

Like Uniqlo's T-shirt designing app, Paint offers a lot of ways to customize your glasses and ensure that no one else has a pair like them. (Unless you decide to share your creative vision within the app, but I'll get to that.) To begin: There are four frame choices (two male, two female), and three color choices depending on your gender. The frame color you pick here is literally the frame around the lenses alone. It's the arms where the customization takes place, and you can print whatever you'd like onto those, both inside and outside.

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That makes a total of four different patterns, photos and short text messages you can add to the frames. And I mean short, because the creative space on the arms of a pair of glasses is, well, pretty small. If anything, the mock-up shown in the app could benefit from a zoom function so you can take a closer look at what you've wrought made. In my case, the smashed-up glass photo I used looked (subjectively) good on the app. In reality, not so much. But then, maybe the image I chose wasn't the ideal resolution; perhaps I rushed the process. Perhaps I should have considered a more ridiculous avenue: This koi carp/cherry blossom combo might not suit many (most?) occasions, but at least it would have stood out as different:

This editor's design conservatism aside, once you've added a pattern, photo or whatever, you can further customize with mosaic, blur or mesh (which reinterprets your design in triangles). There are sliders here to fine-tune the strength of the effect, but then you're largely done. Yep. The next page starts the ordering process: You can input your payment details and publicly share your creation across Twitter, Facebook and the app's own gallery of user creations. And everyone else's attempts look much better than mine. Perhaps that's the biggest challenge when tech allows you to make things as you want them: Maybe some of us don't have very good taste to begin with.

I paid up just shy of 9,000 yen (about $75), and my glasses arrived less than a week later, with a voucher attached to install the free lenses at any brick-and-mortar JINS store. If you know your prescription, you can add that to the order and your glasses will arrive with your lenses already fitted. The glasses feel like another pair of JINS glasses, and even if I'm not happy with what I designed, it's unassuming enough not to raise eyebrows. But then, maybe that should be the point of something you've designed yourself.

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I regrettably designed my own glasses on a smartphone app