Competition for the Google Glass wearable display system was noticeable at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which took place in Las Vegas, USA, on 6-8 January, as companies presented smart glasses that were more fashionable, more adoptable, and which can even clip-on to users’ existing eyewear.
A prototype of Sony’s single-lens display module was unveiled at the show, which is unique as it can be attached onto any pair of glasses. The SmartEyeglass Attach! contains a prism which sits in front of the right eye along with a 0.23-inch OLED high-resolution colour display. Although it is not known when the glasses will be commercially available, it is expected to follow the release of the company’s SmartEyeglass transparent lens eyewear later in 2015.
Many companies are starting to move into the smart glasses space. Just ahead of the CES show, tech giant Intel announced it had invested $24.8 million for a 30 per cent stake in Vuzix in order to accelerate the development of fashionable smart glasses.
Vuzix's existing M100 smart glasses released in 2014 won the CES Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Award. They are an Android-based wearable computer, enhanced with a wearable monocular display and computer, recording features and wireless connectivity capabilities.
According to Intel’s general manager of new devices, Mike Bell, commenting at the Web Summit conference which took place in Dublin in November 2014, fashion will be an important part of taking wearables out of their current niche. By investing in Vuzix, Intel hopes to bring technology and fashion together, Bell added at the summit.
But Intel isn’t the only company interested in fashion. Also at this year’s CES, the Osterhout Design Group (ODG) unveiled a prototype device modelled on the most popular sunglasses style in history, the Wayfarer. Weighing just 125g, ODG’s smart glasses allow users to do everything they do with a tablet, with 3D graphics overlaid and in a hands-free format. It is packed with positional sensors, so that the glasses know where the user is, where they are looking, and how they’re moving; enabling precise augmented reality (AR) experiences.
According to the company’s CEO, who has also designed heads-up displays for scuba masks and for night vision goggles, the design of the new glasses makes them more readily adoptable for the everyday consumer. The first product featuring this new system is expected in 2015.
ODG's prototype smart glasses, modelled on Wafarer sunglasses. Credit: ODG