Instagram-style glasses prove global hit

Marty Bell, Tom Welsh and Kris Reid have invented sunglasses which put an Instagram-style filter on everything within view. Picture: Greg Macvean
Marty Bell, Tom Welsh and Kris Reid have invented sunglasses which put an Instagram-style filter on everything within view. Picture: Greg Macvean
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They may look like any old pair of sunglasses, but these shades are proving an international hit by offering wearers the chance to see the world with a sepia-tint.

Inspired by the global success of the Instagram app, which allows users to add digital filters to their photos, three Capital entrepreneurs have come up with glasses that mimic some of its most popular effects.

So, just as Instagram fans love to add vivid effects to their photos, wearers of these shades can choose to see their daily lives with the oranges and yellows around them vividly highlighted.

And it’s more than just a quirky idea, with investors already chanelling more than £250,000 into the project.

Tom Welsh, Marty Bell and Kris Reid have drawn on their photographic and filmmaking experiences to create Tens – a pair of sunglasses with an in-built tint lens which they claim will “make your day look ten times better”.

And the quirky invention has captured the attention of an international audience eager to get hold of a pair.

After years of research on the experimental venture, the group decided to test the water by online crowd-sourcing, where customers pledge money to pay for the product on offer.

They posted the “sense-heightening” glasses on Indiegogo with an introductory price of £36 and an initial fundraising target of just £9400 – which they met in two hours.

Within a day, they had attracted £36,000 of funding, and within 72 hours the total was a whopping £100,000.

To date, the Tens project has exceeded the £250,000 mark – and the team is now preparing to ship the sunglasses to 84 countries.

Now costing £46 and with a choice of four colours, the group hopes that the shades – which have strong UV protection – will become a hit.

Mr Welsh said he was still overwhelmed by the response, especially as the venture was born out of a casual chat.

“We were driving up to the Highlands and we were talking about our aspirations, and somehow we got into the conversation about how myself and Marty would spend so long editing photos. We were talking about how you can imagine doing that in real life,” he said.

Mr Welsh and the others are delighted that many people are already describing the glasses as a real-life Instagram – a popular photo-sharing social media app where users can use different effects such as sepia and black and white to enhance their photos.

The 26-year-old said: “We have been working on these for almost three years, to get the product right.

“The filter really works best in the blue sky and bright sunshine, in summer weather. What it does is essentially takes the light and makes everything a little bit more saturated, and highlights the yellows and oranges.”

Mr Welsh added: “Everything looks better, it looks happier and you feel positive.”

As the funding and orders kept flooding in, Mr Welsh, Mr Bell, 23, and Mr Reid, 24 – who met while studying at Edinburgh Napier – moved into a flat in Frederick Street to work on the project.

They will start shipping the specs this week. And the UK makes up only a small fraction of the order – with almost half of the orders from the USA, and demand from Mongolia.

Mr Welsh said: “It’s been a whirlwind few weeks.”