For wearables that will filter into our everyday lives, smart glasses are considered the next major breakthrough. It is a challenge that both entrepreneurs and big tech players have stepped up to try to make a reality to place useful linked characteristics in front of our eyes.
With Google Glass, the idea was thrown into the spotlight, and while Glass lives on in the office, it struggled to break into the mainstream.
Apple is working on smart glasses if reports are to be believed, and Facebook has already announced that it plans to launch smart glasses in 2021 and have augmented reality at the center, integrating virtual and physical worlds overlaying knowledge about the world around you.
There's also Google, which purchased optimistic North smart glasses, which operated on the successful North Focals second generation, and announced that the business would be stripped for parts and integrated into the Google hardware team.
After Google Glass Life
Although the big guns seem to be waiting in the wings to display their cards, entrepreneurs are not waiting to introduce the masses with wired eyewear.
It's also not just about slapping your face with a camera. We are able to monitor fitness, tune into audio without headphones, and enable intelligent assistants. There are also smart glasses that only want to make you take images and videos that are more unforgettable.
If you're willing to donate smart specs now or want to know what in the not too far future you could be wearing, we've picked out the best smart glasses you can purchase now that we've tried and what's coming down the road, hopefully.
What are smart glasses with AR?
When we talk about AR or smart glasses for augmented reality, we concentrate on eyewear that has the technology on board to blend virtual knowledge with what you see in the real world, typically overlaid on one of the lenses of the glasses. That may be to replicate the kind of screens and features you would find on your smartphone, such as map navigation or alerts flashing up.
On the way, Smartglasses
Ray Ban Smartglasses on Facebook
Launch: 2021 | Price: TBC | Price:
Snap, Vuzix and more: the best AR glasses and smart glasses for 2020
Smartglasses on Facebook. They're coming and they're going to be released in 2021. Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company will launch its first AR glasses and has partnered with the Luxottica brand of luxury eyewear and the specs will be called Ray-Ban.
It will possibly be born out of Project Aria, a research project set up by Reality Labs of Facebook.
It didn't reveal what these Ray-Ban glasses look like on Facebook, but it did post a video to give us an idea of what these glasses could be capable of. So things like finding keys that you have lost, overlaying a more fun running environment and navigation that might not only make you want to be, but also find stuff within stores faster.
It all sounds really good, but not just what they can do, but how they look when they put those AR smarts to work will be a lot to rest on. We're sure that they're not going to be cheap either.
Buy now: Amazon | From 180 Dollars (invitation only)
Whether the smart specs of Amazon are open to the masses is likely to come down to how well they have been received by its invitation-only program. Currently, it is the only way you can get hold of them.
Made of carbon fiber and titanium and with an IPX4 water and splash-resistant rating, Frames uses microphones and four directional speakers that allow you to talk to your Alexa smart assistant without hearing responses from those around you.
The assistance will allow users to read out updates, play music, take phone calls, and even monitor smart home devices.
To get prescription lenses for them too, Amazon will let you go to eyewear specialists, so they could end up replacing your current pair of glasses.
These are slowly rolled out as stated and are compatible with Android phones to start with no information on whether iOS support will be added.
Best AR Smartglasses: Improved Vuzix Blade
Buy now: Amazon | 900 pounds
Snap, Vuzix and more: the best AR glasses and smart glasses for 2020
As our top choice, the Vuzix Blade Upgraded substitutes North Focals (more on those later) as the latter is no longer available to purchase.
To project a full color HD monitor over the right lens, the Blade uses waveguide technology. They're the first pair of very useful commercial AR glasses that actually look like a pair of glasses. They're not Oakleys or Ray-Bans, just like some other smart glasses, they don't yell "Look at me, I'm technology"
The best way to explain them is that they're a lot like the first smartwatch generation. They're a solid first step to a decent kit to get a lot of advanced tech, but there's still work to do.
The latest updated version mostly sticks to the same design, but now adds voice control support for an 8-megapixel camera, speakers and Vuzix.
The Vuzix app store wasn't exactly brimming with applications when we first had to check out the standard edition. We have stuff like music control, a microphone, an image viewer, and some games to check out. Some high profile names have turned up since then. Netflix, Zoom, Amazon Alexa and even support for DJI drones are available now.
The show is very pleasant and the pictures look crisp and vivid. 4GB of capacity is also available to fill up with what you want. We were able to get about three to four hours as far as battery life was concerned.
The Blade AR is one of the best strides we've seen toward mainstream AR glasses yet. The finest bit? Vuzix has worked to lower the price to below £ 1,000 from the original £ 1,444, just as it said it would.
Verdict: Analysis of Vuzix Blade
Buy now: Amazon | 599 GBP
Epson's BT-300 smart glasses definitely do scream technology, while the Vuzix Blade marks the kind of design change we would like to see from smart glasses going forward.
They manage to ditch their predecessor's clunky style, offering a more polished pair of smart glasses from AR. The BT-300 is smaller than the previous version and provides its multimedia display using a slightly sharper 720p HD resolution OLED display.
There is also a front-facing 5-megapixel camera and it is also powered by an Intel Atom quad core processor, with the app base protected by Android.
With the Moverio apps storefront, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Miracast provide connectivity for a wide variety of devices, providing a handful of apps, including Sky Map and an AR flight simulator.
Smart glasses from Epson have always been very business-oriented, but the BT-300s are a little more enjoyable. There is also a drone version that you can use straight from your specs to fly your DJI drone.
Best AR Cycling Smartglasses: Solos
Buy now: Amazon | 499 dollars
Solos aims at being the best mate of a cyclist. In a small heads-up display, these smart glasses allow cyclists to look at a host of useful real-time data, including velocity, cadence, heart rate and power zones. They were expected to be out in late 2016, but until recently, they were held up by FCC certificates and are now available.
They can work with existing fitness apps like Strava and MapMyRide, provide navigation, and if you want to pair them with other cycling tracking kits, they are compatible with Bluetooth and ANT+ devices. The Solos have already been worn and used by the US Cycling team, so these glasses come with the approval seal of elite athletes.