Despite the questionable future for the most well known smart eye-wear product, Google Glass, there seems to be plenty of companies looking to fill the void that Google has at least temporarily left behind.
Sony is looking to get their take on smart headgear out the door in early March, but to be clear, this is strictly hardware for developers, and unlike Google Glass, this says so right in the name: “Sony SmartEyeglass Developer Edition.” Sony states that it is primarily looking for industrial uses for this product (which doesn’t really jibe with their marketing images), but that other use cases are not to be ruled out.
At launch you will be able to purchase the glasses direct from Sony for $840 plus tax. A steal when compared to Glass, but what exactly are you getting for that?
As befitting a developer product, this is quite an early stage for Sony’s glasses. They are significantly larger than you would imagine they’ll need to be for a consumer launch, and a cable runs down from them to a central hub with a microphone, speaker, NFC, touch sensors and the battery. That second part could simply be a different philosophy from the completely self-contained Google Glass, but it’s hard to imagine anyone wearing something as clunky looking as this out in public.
Focusing on the actual glasses, they are breaking quite a bit from Google Glass in that they are full lens glasses that overlay images directly in front of the user. Google Glass created a display that was out of the normal field of vision for the user. It’s actually much more akin to the original video that Google showed for Glass than what Glass eventually became. The big caveat here is that the SmartEyeglass display is a monochrome green with 8-bit grayscale that is capable of 15 frames per second, so nothing too complicated is going to be passing across your vision.
The glasses do feature a 3-megapixel camera for stills and video, but no sound can be captured with the video.
Battery life will be 150 minutes of usage or 80 minutes with camera use. So like Google Glass, battery life will probably present a pretty serious pain point for anyone using this all day.
The glasses will be compatible with any device running Android 4.4 or above.
I’m glad to see other companies trying at the smart glasses concept. Regardless of how silly they may look now, having spent the better part of two years with Glass, I have little doubt that something like them is in our future.