Smart Glasses: Hands-Free Technology

In 2013 Google released their prototype of Google Glass: eyewear which allows the user to be able to access the internet and other aspects of a computer through a set of glasses.

Using a touchpad on the side arm to control the features, they could also take pictures and allow the user to read emails, receive phone calls and look at maps.

Unfortunately, the Google Glass program was subject to much criticism as people questioned the safety of such a device, how the eyewear would be policed to ensure that people did not use them illegally, whilst driving for example.

The eyewear was also criticised for privacy reasons, with people stating that they allowed people to be recorded or photographed without their knowledge or consent.

In February 2015, Google announced that they would be discontinuing development of their Google Glass product, thereby opening the door for other companies to develop and market their own products. Having done some research I have put together a list of three smart glasses which could dominate the eye-tech market this year.

Spectacles by Snap Inc.

These smart glasses started out as Epiphany Eyewear from Vergence Labs, but were bought by Snap Inc. (owners of Snapchat) in 2014 to develop alongside their app.

Spectacles are a pair of sunglasses which allow you to take photographs or ten-second video clips which can be directly uploaded to your snapchat memories so that you an record aspects of your life that you might otherwise miss.

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These glasses are only available to be used with Snapchat but are reasonably priced for smart technology at $129.99 which includes the glasses and a charging case.

If you want to dabble in interactive smart technology, but do not want to pay too much, these glasses may be the product for you.

Recon Jet by Intel

Recon Jet eyewear claim to be the catch-all of smart eyewear.

Primarily, they advertise to sports enthusiasts with the ability to display all metrics tracking during activity (such as distance, calories burned, heart rate etc).

Displayed just under the right eye, this means cyclists, runners and other athletes do not need to look down at a device on their wrist or bicycle, keeping their attention on their surroundings.

However, Jet glasses also display notifications of phone calls and text messages, so you can keep on top of who is trying to contact you. You can link to maps so that you never get lost, and can take photographs or record video footage.

Recon Jet eyewear is understandably more expensive than the other two options in this list, costing between $549 and $589 depending on which package you choose.

This increased price seems reasonable when you consider that it does the work of a smart phone and has the option for prescription lenses.

Vue Glasses

These smart glasses have not actually been released for purchase yet, they’re expected in July this year, but when they do they could be an instant hit for the everyday tech user.

Pre-order prices are currently $199 and they are expected to retail at $269. They are somewhere between the two other products in terms of price.

However, the minimalism and  stylish design of these glasses are what really sets them apart from other smart glasses on the market. You’re less likely to be mistaken as an extra from The Matrix whilst wearing them.

The best feature of these glasses are the bone conduction speakers which allow users to listen to music, receive phone calls and hear all other notification sounds without requiring the person to use headphones or ear buds.

The science behind it is complicated, but in a nutshell the pads in the sidearms of the glasses send vibrations through the bone in the skull to the inner ear which in turn sends signals to the brain where it sorts the sound out into music, voices etc. to allow us to understand what we’re hearing.

It all sounds very futuristic but incredibly exciting at the same time!

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