Smart Glasses Reviewed

What Are Smart glasses?

Smart glasses go by many names, sometimes being called wearable computers, wearable technology, augmented-reality glasses, optical head-mounted displays (OHMD), or just plain nerd glasses. Nerdy or not, these wearable computers (referred to as in the compound “smart glasses” here at SmartglassesHQ because of the logical evolution can be seen in: smart+phones=smartphones) are here to stay. Mobile technology has grown at break-back paces over the last few years, with more and more people choosing tablets and smartphones over traditional PC’s and laptops. Cisco reported global traffic via mobile devices jumped by 70% in 2012, meaning that in 2014 mobile traffic, 885 petabytes, “was nearly 12 times greater than the total internet traffic around the entire world in 2000.” –CNN

  • The Evolution of Wearable Tech

First came the Blackberry and the iPhone, revolutionizing how consumers use data and setting the stage for an explosion in smartphone technology, with LG, Samsung, HTC, Sony all clambering for a spot in consumers hearts. Soon thereafter came the rise of the tablet computer, most iconic in the iPad, and followed by equivalents from most major smartphone manufacturers. Now, in late 2014 the gadgets in the spotlight are smart watches, or  “smartwatches”, designed to make the data presented via the smartphone just a little more accessible and instant. This clearly indicates the trend is towards immediate, omnipresent access to data. Why look down at your wrist if you can have your information presented in your line of vision? Welcome to smart glasses.

  •  Comparing Smart Glasses To Regular Glasses

Smart glasses are worn like regular prescription glasses or sunglasses on the face, with a small computer processor and battery pack built into or mounted somewhere on the side of the unit which then projects information in the wearers line of vision using either curved mirrors or light-guided technology. Different companies have patented different types and variations, but the end result is the same; an unobtrusive presentation of a defined data set within the users vision. The idea is to provide instant access to chosen information, from twitter statuses to heart rates, immediately accessible and not requiring the use of any hands. Check out the most popular smart glasses currently in development below.

  • The Future of Head-Mounted Augmented Reality

The smart glasses market seems to be fragmenting early on, unlike the smartphone which can be billed as an “all-in-one” multiple purpose communication device, smart glasses are evolving to solve unique and particular niche problems. Google Glass has tried to market itself as an evolved smartphone, a daily use device that performs the same tasks as a smartphone would but with greater ease and in a more convenient method.

Still, Google Glasses have begun to fall into niches of their own. For example,  they have become hugely popular with surgeons, who can document their procedures while retaining use of both hands. Recording procedures for teaching purposes or legal-liability purposes opens a whole new world of technical possibilities in the medical industry. Other smartglass developers are focusing on sports enthusiasts and active lifestyle consumers, gamers, race car drivers and even motorcyclists. It appears as if the smart glasses market will be a highly fragmented and highly specialized one.

What Are Smart glasses?

 

Smart glasses go by many names, sometimes being called wearable computers, wearable technology, augmented-reality glasses, optical head-mounted displays (OHMD), or just plain nerd glasses. Nerdy or not, these wearable computers (referred to as in the compound “smart glasses” here at SmartglassesHQ because of the logical evolution can be seen in: smart+phones=smartphones) are here to stay. Mobile technology has grown at break-back paces over the last few years, with more and more people choosing tablets and smartphones over traditional PC’s and laptops. Cisco reported global traffic via mobile devices jumped by 70% in 2012, meaning that in 2014 mobile traffic, 885 petabytes, “was nearly 12 times greater than the total internet traffic around the entire world in 2000.” –CNN

  • The Evolution of Wearable Tech

First came the Blackberry and the iPhone, revolutionizing how consumers use data and setting the stage for an explosion in smartphone technology, with LG, Samsung, HTC, Sony all clambering for a spot in consumers hearts. Soon thereafter came the rise of the tablet computer, most iconic in the iPad, and followed by equivalents from most major smartphone manufacturers. Now, in late 2014 the gadgets in the spotlight are smart watches, or  “smartwatches”, designed to make the data presented via the smartphone just a little more accessible and instant. This clearly indicates the trend is towards immediate, omnipresent access to data. Why look down at your wrist if you can have your information presented in your line of vision? Welcome to smart glasses.

 

  •  Comparing Smart Glasses To Regular Glasses

Smart glasses are worn like regular prescription glasses or sunglasses on the face, with a small computer processor and battery pack built into or mounted somewhere on the side of the unit which then projects information in the wearers line of vision using either curved mirrors or light-guided technology. Different companies have patented different types and variations, but the end result is the same; an unobtrusive presentation of a defined data set within the users vision. The idea is to provide instant access to chosen information, from twitter statuses to heart rates, immediately accessible and not requiring the use of any hands. Check out the most popular smart glasses currently in development below.

*Check out our simple 3-step comparison guide for choosing the the perfect pair for you! 

 

  • Smart glasses Comparison Chart

Smartglasses of 2015 Compared

Recon Jet

ION Glasses

Vuzix M100

Telepathy One

Meta AR Glasses

Google Glass

GlassUp Augmented Reality

Camera 720p HD Camera Yes, not specified 720p HD Camera 720p HD Camera
+2 960X540 Cameras
720p HD Camera
Photos 5 MP
No Camera
Accelerometer
Gyro
Yes
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes
No
Memory 8GB Utilize Smartphone Memory 4 GB (Micro SD Up To 8GB) 12 GB/ 16 GB Flash Total
Wi-Fi Yes No Yes Yes No
Bluetooth Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Micro USB Yes Yes Yes Yes
Price (USD) $599
AVAILABLE NOW
$99 $400-$500
AVAILABLE NOW
$1,500 $667 $1500
AVAILABLE NOW
$299 (Indiegogo Price)

(List of smartglasses currently on sale or soon to be released.)

 

  • The Future of Head-Mounted Augmented Reality

The smart glasses market seems to be fragmenting early on, unlike the smartphone which can be billed as an “all-in-one” multiple purpose communication device, smart glasses are evolving to solve unique and particular niche problems. Google Glass has tried to market itself as an evolved smartphone, a daily use device that performs the same tasks as a smartphone would but with greater ease and in a more convenient method.

Still, Google Glasses have begun to fall into niches of their own. For example,  they have become hugely popular with surgeons, who can document their procedures while retaining use of both hands. Recording procedures for teaching purposes or legal-liability purposes opens a whole new world of technical possibilities in the medical industry. Other smartglass developers are focusing on sports enthusiasts and active lifestyle consumers, gamers, race car drivers and even motorcyclists. It appears as if the smart glasses market will be a highly fragmented and highly specialized one.

 

  •  5 Features Every Pair of Smart Glasses Must Have in 2014

#5. Quality Hands-free Camera

As things currently stand, any pair of smart glasses released to the public must have at a bare minimum, a 5 megapixel camera building capable of both capturing video and still images. So what, it’s just a camera some may say, is it any more important than the processor or battery? We think it is, and here’s why:

The camera is a key feature of the wearable technology market because it allows users to record video or take pictures without the use of their hands. The popularity of this form of technology has already been proven with the wild success and widespread adoption of the GoPro branded head-mounted cameras. The GoPro for example, was initially primarily used my action sports enthusiasts but quickly became popular amongst every day suburban Joe’s for recording motorcycle trips camping events. The ability to record video hands-free has been a need of the consumer for years, and was only just satisfied with the likes of small cameras like GoPro.

Smart Glass tech however stands to overthrow the GoPro in terms of both style and usability, as having glass-mounted cameras compliment and overlap the existing need to wear protective/sun-blocking eyewear.

While 720p may be the current standard, as soon as Samsung and/or Apple release their competing models to join the battle with Google, it can be confidently assumed 720p will be increased to full HD 1080p as standard. For the time being however, simply having a hands-free way to control the 720p camera will be the bear minimum standard and a “must-have” for any pair of AR tech brought to market.

#4 An Integrated Ecosystem

Market researches (See Deloitte) have pegged wearables as an enormous new market, which isn’t surprising given the dominance of other mobile devices in recent years. In fact, smart phones and tablets are forecast to completely overtake traditional notebooks as a popular means of communicating and web browsing. Wearables is the next step in the decentralization of the computing experience. Still, wearers will expect continuity with their other devices.

So should smart watches catch on, combined with the prevalence of smart phones and tablets, the ability to connect a pair of glasses to communicate and work in-sync with all of a user’s mobile devices is critical.

This is not just for the sake of tethering and sharing data but also the communication and continuity of use of apps and functions across devices.

The lines between mobile operating systems and desktop operating systems have become more and more blurred in recent years and with the rise of wearable technology it’s expected that these lines will continue to blur into indistinction.

The ability to seamlessly connect all of a users mobile devices and have them work together to improve or significantly augment daily life in the form of a single, easily navigated, cross-platform proprietary ecosystem will be key.

#3. The Ability to Define and Dominate a Lifestyle Niche

Unlike smartphones which are have become generalized, all-encompassing, do-all devices is seems smart glasses are moving, at least initially towards lifestyle niches.

For example Vuzix (http://www.vuzix.com/) has already released both glasses and smart-monocles specifically designed for construction workers. This is a large segment of professionals that could benefit greatly from workplace-integrated augmented reality technology.

Another company, Recon Instruments (http://reconinstruments.com) has released pair of glasses called Jet which are targeted specifically towards action lifestyle enthusiasts. With a sleeker design and an emphasis on video recording, Recon is already claiming large portions of the action sports market.

Another company, Meta (http://spaceglasses.com) , make the Meta-Pro glasses. These unique glasses are straight out of the Ironman movies, allowing wearers to create, manipulate, and edit 3-D holographic data in real-time. These glasses are poised to claim market share and favor amongst designers, creatives, and engineers.

So far it seems Google Glasses are being regarded primarily as an augmented notification system, simply meant to better connect wearers with their digital lives, syncing calendar events, updates from friends via social networks, and meeting functions based on geolocation services.

Perhaps one day all smart glasses will evolve into what current smartphones are; one all do all devices. However in the first years of AR technologies adoption it seems important that makers identify and really dominate a lifestyle niche if they are to gain a strong foothold amongst the larger population as a whole.

#2. Popular Mass Marketing

The fiasco that is the public reception of Google Glass and the backlash that has given rise to the “glasshole” terminology illustrate the importance of intelligent mass marketing campaigns to win favor with consumers.

Manufacturers will have to invest in public awareness campaigns and most likely governmental lobbying to ensure that glasses wearers will have the freedom to fully exercise the functions and capabilities of their eyewear without being in violation of local or state law. (*This threat may be overblown, assuming design trends continue, distinguishing between regular sunglasses and smart glasses will become almost impossible)

Furthermore in terms of device popularity, clever marketing will be needed to make people feel more comfortable with the brand new tech. Early adopters are a poor gauge of a device’s mass market appeal, as first adopters generally are much more utility focused than average suburban weekend warriors.

For example, the smartphone mobile industry was contained primarily to business workers when the industry was dominated solely by BlackBerry, which happy with its profitable business niche didn’t push for a larger audience adoption of it’s handsets.

It wasn’t until Apple came along with its iPhone marketed for the masses, not just for business purposes anymore, that the smartphone market really blew up. It was Apples clever marketing led by Steve Jobs that made the smartphone industry what it is today, it made smartphones relevant to everyone. The same sort of marketing billing  AR glasses as in every man’s device will be required for the technology to become mainstream and for real market competition to kickoff.

#1. Design

Design will be the single most enabling and limiting factor in the initial success of the smart glasses industry. It’s design that will be the difference between someone being a Glasshole and being a trend-setter. Design molds technological evolution. Hardware functionality has already been advanced to a point where it will probably not make many more great leaps forward because of it’s intense evolution within the smartphone market.

So if the processors, the chips, the batteries, and the lenses have all reached later life evolutionary stages it will come down to design revolution to differentiate the successful from the unsuccessful within the wearables market segment.

Google is the early leader and behemoth within the market and is obviously acknowledging the importance of design as evidenced by its recent acquisition of Luxottica, manufacturer of Ray-Bans and Oakley. This acquisition is clearly designed to enhance the marketability of the Google Glass technology. Google has struggled to combat the growing glasshole labeling of its device’s wearers and enthusiasts.

It’s hoping to solve this problem simply with an acquisition, however for long-term growth Google will have to figure out how to boost its internal design departments capabilities. This is been a long-standing issue with Google as it prefers to focus more on software and development than hardware and design, as evident by it’s contracting of makers like LG to produce its flagship smartphone’s, the Nexus series.

Another strong indication that design is be the most important factor in within this industry’s development is the emergence of popular crowd funded campaigns featuring AR glasses with relatively limited technological capabilities but very stylish designs. For example, Epiphany Eyeware (http://www.epiphanyeyewear.com/) glasses were funded initially on Indigogo.com and Weon glasses (http://www.weonglasses.com/) funded first on Kickstarter.com.

When technological development is pushed forward not by corporations or venture capitalists but instead by micro donations directly from consumers it is probably the surest way to know that there’s a demand for something not currently being fulfilled by existing industry leaders, in this case Google.

For these reasons Google Glass has not been released to the public is telling, probably because they haven’t figured out how to make the headset “cool” yet. It could be assumed that they’re working frantically with Luxottica to redesign the glasses so they can release an updated, “stylish” version and beat Samsung and Apple to the market with a truly popular product.

If smart glass manufacturers conquer the design issue they should have a pretty easy time saturating the wearables market since people have already embraced the technological form of eyewear with the existing use of sunglasses and prescription eyewear. AR headsets will just be a happy marriage between the existing form factor of eyewear and the existing tech of smartphones, creating the ultimate consumer gadget.

2014-15 will be  very interesting couple of years as we witness the birth of a whole new tech segment..

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