Selling in the U.S. for $840, the SmartEyeglass Developer Edition features camera-equipped and sensor-equipped eyewear that connects with a wire to a separate controller device. The controller, which supports near-field communication, includes a battery, speaker, microphone and touch sensor.
SmartEyeglass has the potential to be used in a wide range of scenarios, according to Sony. In addition to making it available to individual developers in the U.S., U.K., Japan and Germany, Sony will also take orders starting March 10 from enterprise customers in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
Glass-Like Challenges Ahead
Already facing criticism for being overpriced and “dorky,” SmartEyeglass will likely encounter the same market challenges that led to Google’s decision last month to halt sales of its $1,500 Glass. While Google Glass was embraced by some users in the tech, military, travel and other industries, it also saw a backlash by those who viewed the technology as intrusive or creepy.
“The advent of industrial strength voice interfaces coupled with early stage ‘stronger’ AI is screaming for novel human interfaces,” Samim Winiger told us last month. Part of the small team behind Cyborg Unplug, a device designed to “sniff” out and disconnect Glass and other surveillance-enabling wearables, Winiger added, “Google Glass (or moreso, the public perception of it) was not able to grow into a[n] adequate interface for these rapidly evolving services and thus the brand has been difficult to maintain.”
Google and other tech companies are looking at smart wearables such as Glass mainly as an extension of their data services, Winiger said. With that philosophy underlying the business model for the technology it’s clear there would soon be new incarnations of such hardware, he added.
Eyeing 2016 Commercial Sales
When connected with a compatible Android smartphone, Sony’s SmartEyeglass will enable users to view monochromatic content and images via the lens’ user interface. Those capabilities hold great potential for use by, for example, workers in a manufacturing plant or security officers investigating problems or breaches, according to Sony.
Weighing in at 77 grams, Sony’s device includes a camera for both still and sound-free video image capture. It’s powered by a lithium-ion battery that can last 150 minutes without camera use, or 80 minutes with camera use.
By releasing the SmartEyeglass hardware along with an updated version of its software development kit, Sony is hoping that developers will find even more uses and develop even more apps for the device. The company said it envisions having SmartEyeglass ready for commercial sales to both consumers and enterprise customers in 2016.