Just a little over a year ago, Solos Wearables announced it was going to crowdfund a nifty looking pair of smart cycling glasses, and we were definitely intrigued. Since then we've seen Oakley launch its Radar Pace glasses, but the Solos specs are still just starting to ship to backers.
At Augmented World Expo 2017, we brought Stuart Nixdorff, senior VP of sales and marketing at Kopin (which owns Solos) over to the Wareable booth for an interview, where he told us the company is now upping production to get these into the hands of the masses. We also got to try the glasses on ourselves, and while we sadly couldn't saddle up for a cheeky cycling session, we still got a taste of what it will be like to use them.
Read this: The best cycling watches and trackers
Like the Radar Pace, the Solos look like a regular pair of cycling glasses, but the key difference is that protruding arm which holds what's called the invisible optic. "An invisible optic is the world's smallest AR optic module," explained Nixdorff. "The display itself is smaller than 4mm, which is smaller than the size of your pupil, so when you look at it you actually see through it and see around it and it doesn't block or distract you."
If you've ever tried Google Glass, the Solos will feel similar; you get that tiny, floating rectangular display, which our eyes needed a few moments to adjust to. The arm is moveable too, so you can push it up or down to get the screen in focus. While still small, the Solos display appeared crisper than the one we'd seen on Glass, and probably just as well, because you don't want to be squinting and adjusting your head while powering along at 30mph.
When we put them on, we saw a demo that was flicking through different measurements like power, heart rate, speed, cadence, distance, navigation - everything you'd want for a cycling computer that now lives on your head.
But unlike the Radar Pace there's no in-ear audio, so they rely on speakers built into the sides of the frame. This lets you take calls and get updates - "You're going 22mph" and navigation cues - "Turn left" - as you power those pedals, and you can even give voice prompts. Together with the micro screen, it's the type of heads-up display many cyclists have been longing for.
"We're bringing it to the point where you no longer have to look at your wrist or your bike computer," said Nixdorff, who said the company has second-gen products "on the way".
The Solos glasses started out as a secret venture called 'Project Rio', which involved testing by the US Olympic cycling team - so they definitely mean business. We're interested to see how they fare when out on the road though, and seeing how that voice recognition works with wind and traffic to compete with. Mostly, it will come down to how useful - and not distracting - that tiny display is when in the midst of the action.