The Not-So-Distant Future of Smart Glasses
Smart glasses can be a pretty polarizing subject (no pun intended) but whether you’re for or against the concept of tech-integrated eyewear, there hasn’t really been a universally accepted version of it yet. Google Glass with its VERY visible hardware and a lense-less frame was released as a beta to select members of the public in 2013 but still to this day has not been widely sold to the public. A second edition of the tech is said to be released to certain companies in 2018, but no word of a wide release.
In just the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of impressive VR and AR headsets that have piqued our interests to what wearable tech can do. Several companies believe that the public is ready for smart glasses and are unveiling some gadgets that need to be seen to be believed.
Step into the Future
A fan favorite this year at the giant tech conference, CES, is one such new and much-improved pair of smart glasses. Vuzix, a pioneer of smart glasses and wearables, unveiled a new pair of Augmented Reality smart glasses that are integrated with Amazon’s Alexa this week at CES. Proving that Amazon’s virtual assistant can be put into almost anything, the Vuzix Blade will have darkened lenses that project visuals and information on the upper right portion of the lenses. It is the first iteration of their smart glass line that doesn’t have protruding hardware a la google glasses. Even the power source is contained in the hardware. They have a built-in camera, microphone, and touchpad, and can pair with both Androids and iPhones. The first generation will be a whopping $1000 a pair, but they promise that the price will go down as new generations come out.
Reviewers who got to play with the glasses say that they’re unlike anything else we’ve seen before. The main difference is that they look and function like normal eyewear meaning you won’t be accosted with questions if you wanted to wear them out in public.
Another highly anticipated contender is Vue, a pair of smart glasses with a built-in virtual assistant. Vue can track your activity, make hands free calls and play music through speakers positioned right behind your ears. Everything is controlled by gesture trackers embedded into the arms of the frame. They will come in a variety of colors and offer prescription, clear, or sunglass lenses. This model is a departure from what we would assume the future of smart glasses would be since there is nothing projected, but it’s definitely a more affordable alternative. It presents all of the basic features you would want in a pair of smart glasses, but without anything obstructing your vision. Vue is only available for pre-order now at a reasonable $199-229 each.
There are several other rising contenders in the smart glass race, and you can even purchase some, but most are still in a developmental phase. This means that the company wants developers to buy the hardware so that they will build apps and software for the product.
Microsoft HoloLens – Commercial: $5000, Development: $3000
Solos AR Cycling glasses – $500
Vuzix M300 – $1,499