Picture of Diffuser (Polarizer) Glasses
As curious as I am, I opened up the LCD screen of an old laptop that would have been thrown away otherwise.

What I found inside seemed to be the most interesting material ever! There were multiple sheets of plastic that looked to be metallic and shiny, but reflected and diffused light in strange ways. 

Trying to come up with a fun project, I settled on diffuser glasses. 
--I honestly do not know what to call these things, polarizers or diffusers. Whatever they may be, please let me know, so I can put up the correct information!

I'll take you step by step to make these fun, yet disorienting glasses.

Note: I will not be responsible for broken monitors or concussions! :)

What it looks like:

 Thank you to my friend for the idea!
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
There is a fairly short list of materials

1. An old laptop or some spare sheets of this diffuser stuff. Old cellphones or anything with an LCD should work.
2. RealD 3D Glasses! (I got mine from Avatar, but really any fairly large glasses without lenses are fine)
3. Flat and phillips head screwdrivers
4. Small pocketknife, or anything with a thin blade that gives you good leverage
5. Scissors
6. White paper
7. Pencil
8. Scotch tape
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PierreF3 years ago
Hi, your glasses are very nice! Theses sheets diffract the light in a funny way.
But this thin plastic stuff isn't a fresnel lens or a polariser,

but a diffraction grid!

This grid is used in lcd screens to separate colors from the white light, in order to have Red, blue or green pixels! This explain why you can see some "rainbows" with your glasses :)
mhassan53 years ago
Do they effect your eyesight?
rix_1014 years ago
I can't get the two layers apart :/ Any tips?
bilham4 years ago
I tried to make one, but i couldn't put the two pieces back together. Should I glue them? Maybe I damaged the plastic?
louieaw (author)  bilham4 years ago
Yeah. I ended up putting a little bit of glue between the two pieces because they would occasionally come apart. You may have chipped off a small piece of the plastic, but glue would fix that.
LDDR4 years ago
 an old big screen T.V. with the plastic for the screen works awesome as well
davej66944 years ago
dude i made a pair and they are so awesome! thanks man :o
milkywaybar5 years ago
you might be able to find out what it's called here:
frollard5 years ago
I was just gonna say (as bob points out) that these are basically fresnel lenses that increase the viewing angle of the lcd - which has a poor angle - by spraying a focussed image out in all directions.

The lenses you took OUT of the real3d glasses WERE polarized - you can tell if they're polarized if they change transparency as you change the angle of two layered sheets...try it with the lenses you took out!
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The sheets he is taking OUT of the old glasses:  They are linear...I had a pair, and they are linear polarized.  "real3d" projects one lens vertical and the other lens horizontal with a prism splitter to get each frame overlaid on the same screen using just one projector rather than the old style of 2 projectors, one with each orientation of polarization.  I used to be a projectionist.

Holding pairs of glasses face to face cancels because it puts a left and a right in front of each other (vert + horizontal) which is opaque, but if you hold the glasses face to face and rotate one pair of glasses it becomes semitransparent based on the angle.

The lenses he is putting INTO the old frames:  fresnell lenses.

getack frollard5 years ago
Are you sure they are linear polarized? Because the RealD 3D glasses I got from a movie in South Africa are NOT linear polarized. They are cirular polarized. One is clockwise and the other is antclockwise. When I rotate the two lenses over eachother, they change in transparency, but they never go complely opaque. Apparently the circular polarisation in 3D movie goggles ease the strain on the eyes. But i'm no expert.
frollard getack5 years ago
I wasn't aware that a spiral polarization existed - if it did then it would always be 'mostly opaque' at all angles - think of two spirals overlaid, no matter what angle they still always have the same amount of overlap.

They are linear.  'never totally opaque' is because they are not perfect polarizers - very few materials are, and definitely not plastic 3 dollar lenses.
*image blatantly ripped off from the website.

Note the arrows are INCORRECT in this picture - vertical slits allow VERTICALLY polarized image to pass through, not opposite as it shows.  Howstuffworks also has the red/blue analglyph glasses image backwards - a red filter only allows the red image through, not the blue image as shown.
getack frollard5 years ago
Actually, frollard, the picture IS correct. If you read on under the Absorptive caption you will find an explanation. The notion that the light waves "slip through" is incorrect. Mechanics of polarisation is much more complicated than that. Waves parallel to to the polariser gets absorbed, but waves perpendicular goes through. I was misinformed as well. But I believe after this thought-provoking and stimulating thread, we all leave a bit more informed!

frollard getack5 years ago
I guess it depends on how you visualize the polarization, and how you visualize the em radiation:  which axis is considered for visualization and which is considered for polarization transmittance...
 That's a pretty big FAIL for How Stuff Works eh?
They are very very good for cheap plastic glasses, nearly completely opaque at angles. You can see a very bright torch shone through, but normal comfortable viewing light is blocked quite well.

There's a short write up on RealD here:

And circular polarization here:

Circular polarization is somewhat rare in nature, though it is thought some shrimp can actually detect circular polarized light.
I are learned; thank you for the info!

just seems it would be hard to produce a circularly polarized lense - only allowing one rotation of em to pass through.
mr_step getack5 years ago
Mine were also circular (Australian cinema)

There should be one combination looking through them where it will go completely opaque no matter what hold them. Just flip one around and it will go completely black when trying to look through both no matter how you rotate them. Which is the behaviour mine exhibited.

It's possible some theatres are still using linear polarization if they already had that fitted, but as far as i knew all the new installations were using circular.

They do use the single projector with an alternating filter that alternates the right/left handedness of the image. You can read all about it on the RealD wiki page or on their site.
 That explains why they don't go opaque. I kept my pair and noticed this but didn't bother researching. I assumed they where just cheap glasses. 

I kept the lenses to try making a poor-man's polarizing camera filter for shooting through water. I'' post an instructable if it works.
Vulcanator5 years ago
i made mine a year ago and brought them into school and played dodgeball while wearing them. it was crazy.
you're using a fresnel lens which is practically a huge powerful magnifying lens. they use those in lighthouses and flatscreen tvs. you take that out on a hot or sunny day, you could melt pennies, concrete and sand. i've actually tried it before and it was awesome. nut i dont recommend to use them as sunglass lens though.
wow awesome, seriously?
yeah, try it on a hot sunny day. i live in southern california so this isnt a problem but if it is a problem, do it during summer
nice,  i'll try sumtime, ty dude
Sorry, but not (necessarily) true. The Fresnel principle does not imply any specific optical design. It just means an optical element is 'chopped up', to fit on a sheet, car fixture or light house. it can be a positive, negative or neutral element. In this case it is a prism.
louieaw (author)  world_domination5 years ago
:-/ not good... haha
geeklord5 years ago
Holy crap!, I made these just a couple months ago out of some safety glasses and the sheets of whatever it is from a camera LCD! I brought mine to school and let a bunch of people try them on; even a teacher tried them on. I got them taken away in 3 of my 5 classes though...
louieaw (author)  geeklord5 years ago
 Haha. Sorry, but yeah. I let some friends use them at school. Everybody loved them, especially trying to walk down the hallways. Big hit!
I got mine taken away because it was distracting to other students, not because of me, really.
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 Thanks. I was actually starting to have that same problem too. Black tape sounds like a good fix, or maybe some poster putty? I don't want to permanently seal the two together with glue, because if you reverse the lenses, you get a different appearance. 

uldics5 years ago
When I was a kid, I had a little game clock (Nu pogodi) with the only game being a wolf catching eggs from forur corners , four chicken, dropping them faster and faster. It had approximately 5x7cm screen, monochrome, which only could show some distinct figures at their places. With time the screen faded out, probably from sun or aging, not sure. But I took it apart and took out of the screen, the polarizer sheet.
I had also at the time (80ties) a hand watch, it was called Elektronika 5. It had same type screen, where I took the polarizer sheet out. I screwed my large game polarizer sheet to the inside of my sunglases. Now I could see my watch alone - my friends were amazed.
spstromberg5 years ago
Don't wear these outside. None of the materials used block UV light. The lenses block visible light so your pupils will dilate letting in more UV light than normal and can do damage. It doesn't look like something you would wear for more than a minute with all the distortion. But don't start wearing around RealD glasses just because they look super nerdy, you will damage your eyes.
norsehorse5 years ago
These are like the "drunk goggles" that simulate heavy intoxication. The local police department brought them to our school and a few volunteers got to try to pass the "walking a line" test while wearing them. Nice job!
What is even harder then walking drunk goggles is trying to drive a golf cart through an obstacle course with the strongest ones on.
 Hey BobS, that first microscope shot seems to shrink as I look at it, spooky !
mikeasaurus5 years ago
can you include a shot taken through the lens so we can see what it looks like when wearing them?
louieaw (author)  mikeasaurus5 years ago
 I've tried, but it doesn't really come out the way it looks. I can say that you don't see anything clearly, you run into things, but it's really fun. 
Try either the macro setting on your camera (flower), or the infinite focus setting (landscape/mountains) to see if that helps overcome the autofocus having a poop-fit with this extra lens :D
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