Smart glasses, with their eel-like appearance, have made regular press appearances in the last few years. The concept has taken a while to catch on… When Apple revealed its first smart watch in 2014, it didn’t exactly become a consumer craze. Nor did it thrill traditional watchmakers, who considered it a gadget. Nevertheless, more than 42 million smart watches were sold in 2018 (including 50% Apple Watches) and other technology brands are lining up behind Apple : Samsung, Fitbit, Pebble, Jawbone, Garmin, Withings Huawei, Xiaomi… Followed by watchmaking brands, who have decided they don’t want to miss the technology train, such as Louis Pion, Fossil, Swatch, Frédérique Constant, Montblanc, Tag Heuer, Hublot, Breitling and Louis Vuitton.
Smart glasses – a “personal imagery system” in technical terms – are a kind of wearable computer that optimize everything that the wearer sees by providing complementary information. The information is gathered by external and internal sensors built into the frames or is controlled by or recuperated from other devices such as smartphones.
This device can support wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS. Current-day models run on a mobile operating system and work like wearable multimedia players to make it possible, for example, to send audio and video files to the user. Others include a lifelogging feature (a switchless micro camera that records each second of life) and an activity sensor.
The wearable device market is still oriented toward smart watches, but it will encounter significant growth in the upcoming years, especially in smart glasses. According to the International Data Corporation, the world’s wearable technology market represented 124.9 million units at the end of 2018, up by +8.2% compared to 2017; and should reach 200 million units by 2022. Smart glasses specialists are polishing their arms to develop a future market, as demonstrated by the attractive wearable innovations on offer that we review below. It is worth noting that a number of models combine voice and sound with vision, bringing the term “augmented vision” a whole new meaning…
Unveiled for the first time at the CES 2019, Nreal Light glasses resemble traditional sunglasses. They only weigh 85 grams and offer a 52° field of view for a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels at 60 Hz. They are also equipped with two cameras which enable a positioning follow-up on six axes and object recognition features.
After speakers and headphones, Bose proposes Frames, sound-enhanced glasses that enable you to listen to music and access an augmented reality audio platform. The temples are equipped with an acoustic system that transmits sound directly to the wearer’s external ear in such a way that only that person may hear the sound. Moreover, it features the Bose AR platform with a nine-axis movement sensor (three rotation axes, three acceleration axes, and three orientation axes with a compass) which, combined with the GPS of a smartphone, can determine the user’s position and the direction of his or her view in order to provide sound information that is perfectly suited to the user’s movements.
The Canadian glasses manufacturer North seems to have understood the Apple philosophy : to keep things simple, attractive and affordable. Its Focals smart glasses are the most wearable and easiest-to-use of any on the market. The right-hand temple features a micro projector that displays information from the smartphone on the lens, via Bluetooth and the Alexa virtual assistant. To control the glasses and browse the interface, the user wears a ring that acts as a joystick. Their aesthetic appearance is polished, modern, and wearable, and of course they may be equipped with prescription lenses for everyday wear.
Zungle sunglasses, produced by a Californian start-up, feature artificial intelligence (AI) with Bluetooth 5.0, voice control and Vibra speakers to listen to music, make phone calls, follow GPS navigation, receive messages, browse the Internet, and so on, all using wireless technology in conjunction with a smartphone.
Combined with a smartphone, Vuzix Blade smart glasses can display telephone notifications, act as a remote control to play music, take pictures and videos and more, using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology. They are even compatible with the Amazon Alexa virtual assistant. The clear, precise information display is projected in miniature onto the right-hand lens. And the glasses may be equipped with corrective lenses.
Voxos smart glasses make it possible to receive music and information through a mobile phone, but they also have a positive effect on patients suffering from hearing impairments such as tinnitus. According to a report by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, 1 out of 10 adults is afflicted with tinnitus. In a partnership with Hearology, a company that is redefining the audiology industry, Voxos glasses assist patients suffering from hearing impairments. In addition to this advantage, the glasses enable the user to get and listen to music, audio books, a telephone call or GPS instructions and to use the voice command to browse the Internet.
The University of Southern California joined forces with the American optician VSP Global to develop Level smart glasses. Waterresistant and available in three different versions, they are equipped with various sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer) to measure the user’s number of steps, calories burned and duration of activity. They transfer the data gathered to the user’s smartphone using Bluetooth technology. A companion application is also available on iOS and Android to follow up on the activity, and a “Find my glasses” feature helps locate the device when it is misplaced.