Startup makes smart glasses that don’t look ridiculous

The Vue glasses look and cost as much as normal glasses but they take voice controls, play music and more.

November 28, 2016

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The Vue glasses look and cost as much as normal glasses but they take voice controls, play music and more.

Controls on the side of the Vue glasses via tapping and sliding can be customized
through the Vue smartphone app (Source: Vue)

One of the biggest problems with Google Glass is that it tried to do too much. It looked ridiculous, of course, but part of the reason for that was because of all the technology it was using. Vue smart glasses take a simpler approach, doing just enough to make them an enticing wearable device for everyday use. This is exactly what Vue is going for, as the company calls its product the "world's first pair of smart glasses that are designed for everyday use." Some competitors might take issue with this self-glorified description, but the features list does make it seem like it is true. The only issue right now is that the glasses are being crowdfunded on Kickstarter, which means success is far from certain.

Unlike some smart glasses in the past, the Vue glasses look like normal ones and cost about the same as their branded counterparts. During the Kickstarter campaign, the glasses start at $179 for a pair with prescription or tinted lenses. People can spend up to $259 for polarized or transition lenses. It is ironic that one of the most unique features of these smart glasses is that they are actually made for people who wear glasses every day.

Unlike Google Glass, these glasses do not have a display for visual cues about what is going on, although they do include an LED light for notifications. Controls are done through voice or tapping on the side. Controls like a double tap or sliding a finger on the side are customizable so they can be used for whatever a wearer wants.

Many Bluetooth glasses coming out of China these days include ear buds so people can use them for music. Vue takes a different approach since these glasses are meant to be used all the time. Sound is emitted via bone conduction. The glasses include a microphone for phone calls and voice controls as well.

The device comes with a charging case, which allows for up to three full charges and seven days of standby time. Without the case, the company said the 90mAh battery in the glasses lasts two or three days on standby or five hours of talk time. People may not want another device to charge, but for users who wear glasses every day, they will still work perfectly fine as normal glasses without any charge at all.

The glasses run on an ARM Cortex-M3 processor, although the company did not specify the brand. The device uses Bluetooth 4.2 and will work with Android 4.3 and iOS 8+. It also includes a gyroscope and an IR proximity sensor. The company said the Vue glasses are rain-, splash- and sweat-resistant, which means they are probably not as durable against water as the Galaxy S7 or iPhone 7.

Given that many glasses cost at least as much as the Vue glasses, these might be the first of its kind that do not seem like an unreasonable purchase. This is a significantly different product from Google Glass, which did not launch with support for prescription glasses and never sold for less than $1,500. Even other modern smart glasses such as Oakley's Radar Pace are more expensive and targeted at athletes.

All that is left now is for the company to get funded and prove to the world that it can deliver on its promises. With more than a month left, it has already made about five times its original goal. If the Vue glasses are successful, it might change smart glasses the way Pebble changed smart watches.

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