Nicholas Perricone is the founder of a new company called PerriQuest Defense Research Enterprises. He is best known for his cosmetics line, Perricone MD. He has written many books and appeared on TV countless times. Now he is getting in to security devices. His company makes glasses that are designed to be worn by pilots. The glasses help solve the increasing problem of laser attacks on airplanes by not allowing pilots to be blinded or “dazzled” by these assaults from below.
Perricone MD is an expensive line of cosmetic products that promises many age defying things. Making eyewear for pilots is certainly a different business model. It is quite the jump for Dr. Perricone. He equates the new glasses to Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Telling us how they wrap around the head with a snug fit and feature titanium frames that can be used with prescription lenses. He says that he is the only one doing this and it is more affordable than you would think.
Laser attacks at aircraft are a growing threat to the aviation industry. Everybody knows about laser pointers, which have always been a toy used to tease a cat or give a PowerPoint presentation or just a tool for astronomers. But now bad people are using these devices to shoot at airplanes and this is a very dangerous criminal activity.
Studies have shown that lasers can harm a pilot from 5 miles away. The cheap toy store lasers that cost only a few dollars have a range of a mile and can cause problems to pilots by hindering their vision. There have been literally thousands of these incidents reported just this year alone according to the FAA. Lasers are very distracting to pilots and can cause temporary blindness that can require medical treatment or even take down a plane.
Dr. Perricone has always been interested in defense issues. He even holds a patent for protection against handheld rockets. At a conference a few years ago he was asked if he could develop a device to protect pilots from these laser attacks. This became a mission for PerriQuest, a company he developed shortly after the 9/11 attacks to develop security related projects.
The problem with traditional eyewear is that it only blocks green light. However, lasers use red or even blue light. So Perricone wanted something that would block all colors and still maintain color differentiation. He is confident that his glasses are the only solution on the market that does this.
Expert optic scientists designed the lens coatings. They are made in Iowa by a company called Zeiss. The frames are made in China. They are titanium. Finally, they are coated in the USA, in New Hampshire. There are glasses for sale now, mostly early production prototypes. But a full production run is expected to start soon.
Catching these laser pointing pranksters is very challenging. But Perricone’s emphasis is on protection of the pilots. His interest in science goes back to his youth. He would regularly conduct experiments at home with his father. An English literature grad, he worked for many years before deciding to become a doctor.
Dr. Perricone’s nights as a student were filled with science courses and eventually he graduated from Michigan State Medical School in 1982. After spending time as a pediatrics intern at Yale, he became friends with a dermatologist and this changed his career path to dermatology.
He founded Perricone MD in 1997 to sell his laboratory designed cosmetics. His products are at the high end of the market in terms of price point, some over $500 for a small bottle. They aren’t cheaper products like Boots Number 7 or Burt’s Bees , but they sell well. Like everything, it is all marketing and Dr. Perricone is a master story teller. But today he is laser focused (pardon the pun) on his newest security glasses business. He feels that airlines have no choice but to equip their pilots with these safety devices. After all, how could the technology exist and not be utilized? That could be a major liability for the airlines, Perricone reckons.