It's not mere observation that most – if not all – smartglasses are hideous. It's a fact. The worst part is they promise a lot of cool tech but so far, haven't quite delivered. Smartglass company Vue wants to change all of that.
These aren't your average pair of smartglasses – there's no allure of augmented reality or heads up displays. Instead, Vue is taking a different approach where the spec's frames will track your activity, subtly send you notifications, use bone conduction audio tech to provide music without earbuds and a touch interface right on the frames. This allows you to swipe for music controls and answer calls.
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The idea is similar to that of Level which was announced last year from the University of Southern California's Center for Body Computing and VSP Global, where the latter was previously involved in creating frames for Google Glass.
At the moment Level seems to be primarily involved in research, and is prepping results for a health pilot program reveal in 2017. Vue, meanwhile, is aimed at average consumers who want glasses that do a bit more than help with vision and is going through Kickstarter to find some funding love.
We've tried early Vue prototypes for ourselves and, so far, are impressed with the offering – at least in terms of the music playback. The sounds were clear and yet quiet when not on the head, making it a private experience whether you're on a call or listening to music. Admittedly, it may look a little odd if people see you talking to yourself on the street.
Design-wise, the glasses definitely look sexy with all the right amounts of hipster and style. They were also surprisingly light and comfortable, though the weight might change as Vue adds in more features down the line.
However, co-founder Tiantian Zhang and product marketing manager Aaron Rowley told me their main goal is to keep the smartglasses both fashionable and functional. For example, Vue doesn't have heart rate monitoring or a built-in camera for AR to cut down on bulkiness. But Rowley says if it's something people want, the company will listen and try to incorporate it without sacrificing comfort and looks.
Similarly, options for in-ear coaching to enhance the activity tracking are a possibility. Zhang says the team wanted to do much more, but in order to ship out the best product in a slim, stylish form factor, many aspects were shelved for future iterations.
When it does ship, the designs will include two styles of frames, classic and trendy, along with a choice of three colours: black, brown or white. There will also be patterns for each colour like high gloss black, kevlar, high gloss brown and wood. Lenses will include single-vision or progressive prescriptions, or plano (non-corrective) glasses. Sunglasses are also an option.
As they're smartglasses, you'll have to charge them up every once in a while. But you'll get two or three days of usage, while the case itself is rechargeable and lasts seven days on its own.
The Vue specs won't break the bank and will retail for $269, but the early bird price on Kickstarter is only $159. You will have to wait a while though, as the Vue smartglasses won't ship until July 2o17.