CES is the place where cool tech gets showcased. Notice we said cool, not practical. Because in truth, most of the showcased gadgets are still in the conceptual stage. Some, like Sony’s SmartEyeglass developer edition, goes against the norm and is ready to play.
We’ve spent a few minutes with the new eyewear, and while it’s not a definitive experience of its true potential, we had a sneak peek at what’s to come through the demos at Sony’s booth.
External augmented reality
The smart glasses use a pair of bifocal lenses which Sony claims is easier on the eye. True enough, our peepers definitely didn’t feel the strain while we donned the glasses and started tracking the demo’s user interface.
The glasses are one part of the interface, the second being the touch control. Unlike Google Glass, the controller, which resembles a small hockey puck, is linked via a wire to the frame, with an enter and back button to navigate through the interface.
Our first demo involves an augmented reality shooting game, which requires you to move your head to track and aim at targets. Once the target is in sight, just tap the control to shoot. Supposedly easy, but the targets could be hiding behind you, so you'll need to glance at the corners, move your head and even swing your body to the side to hunt them down.
Another demo we’ve tried is a navigation system, which shows an arrow that points to your destination. Imagine it as an augmented reality app which appears on the lenses rather than your smartphone’s display. Similar to the shooting game demo, the user interface uses a monochromatic green colour and appears in the centre of your vision.
Driving is a bit of a stretch, and Sony confirmed that for now, the glasses aren’t meant to provide driving directions. In the meantime, the SmartEyeglass' SDK, which is already in the hands of developers, could potentially create one such app that'll be less intrusively placed on the glass' interface.
The final demo showed how SmartEyeglass can display fitness metrics such as distance and steps. Particularly useful while you’re jogging and the glasses are relatively light. The only concern would be the dangling wire to the control, which can be somewhat cumbersome to your movement.
Saying no to prescriptions
The SmartEyeglass, unfortunately, won’t fit if you’re wearing prescription lenses. There’s hope though, as Sony is currently developing the SmartEyeglass Attach! (yes, the ! is part of the name) that, as its name implies, attaches to your existing glasses.
The Attach! functions similarly to Google Glass, projecting the user interface onto the glasses via the right unit. Though it’s a wireless display unit, a wire connects the display unit to the battery, which latches onto the left side of your glass.
Sony states that the SmartEyeglass Attach! is still in prototype stage, so you won’t spot it on early adopters’ heads anytime soon. The SmartEyeglass, however, should be available to developers from as early as March