What to Know About Smart Glasses

Hands full? No problem! Smart glasses display content right on the lenses of your eyewear.

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They might seem like something out of a spy movie, but smart glasses are the latest in wearable tech. If you’re willing to pay a premium price, you can have your own pair of spy-worthy eyewear.

What Are Smart Glasses?

Put simply, smart glasses are eyewear — whether prescription, non-prescription or sunglasses — with a built-in computer. Similar to a smart watch, smart glasses typically sync up with your phone and track various data. But instead of displaying information on a screen, data is projected onto the lenses, right in front of your eyes. Many smart glasses can also take photos, play music, and follow voice- or motion-activated commands.

How Do Smart Glasses Work?

As you might imagine, smart glasses are fairly high-tech, with several components that power their functionality. Key to all this is a central processing unit, typically located in the arm (temple) of the glasses, which serves as the gadget’s brain.

In addition, most smart glasses have some sort of projection method that allows a partially transparent digital display to be shown on the lenses, without totally obscuring vision. Depending on the model, smart glasses may also have a microphone, camera and speakers built into the frame.

Features and Benefits of Smart Glasses

You might be wondering what, exactly, smart glasses can do, and the answer is a lot! Specific features will naturally vary depending on the brand and model. But in general, smart glasses allow you to field text messages and phone calls, display GPS navigation, track health data, control smart devices and capture photos — without ever taking your smartphone out of your pocket.

Smart glasses also have various applications in business settings. They can display presentations during meetings, map out inventory warehouses, collaborate with other wearers and much more. There are also sports/fitness-focused smart glasses, which provide data like speed, heart rate and more.

How Much Do Smart Glasses Cost and Where Can I Buy Them?

Google Glass, launched in 2013, was one of the first versions of smart glasses on the market. Today it’s only available for enterprise use. While extremely high-tech, Glass never gained traction among consumers because of its high price and non-aesthetic appearance.

However, Glass paved the way for other smart glasses. Today, multiple brands offer consumer- and business-focused products. Among them:

  • North Focals: These smart glasses include a ring (called Loop) for better control, and they’re significantly more stylish than other models. The price for the first generation of North Focals started at $600, and the company plans to launch its second-gen product in 2020.
  • Vuzix Blade: Though clunky in design, the Vuzix Blade smart glasses offer multiple functions and can be controlled via voice command or touch-pad navigation. Predominantly marketed toward businesses, they cost a cool $800.
  • Snapchat Spectacles: The popular social media app Snapchat offers a brand of smart glasses with a sleek modern design. Spectacles are predominantly designed to capture photos and videos for the app, and they cost $380.
  • Bose Frames: The audio company Bose’s smart glasses feature one thing: Built-in speakers. These glasses come in different styles and start at $200.
  • Echo Frames: Mega-retailer Amazon recently introduced Echo Frames ($180), equipped with Alexa. These glasses are available by invitation only, and the company hasn’t announced when or if the product will be released to the mass market.

Camryn Rabideau
Camryn Rabideau is freelance writer specializing in fashion, beauty, home, smart technology and general lifestyle content. She holds a degree in fashion merchandising from the University of Rhode Island and jumps at any opportunity to combine her love for fashion and writing.

Camryn is a regular contributor to popular media sites such as Martha Stewart, Food52, InStyle, Taste of Home, USA Today, Reviewed.com, The Spruce, Elite Daily and The Everygirl. She has also worked with several Fortune 500 companies to create engaging articles for their content marketing initiatives. Despite pressure from her peers, she remains on team #NoOxfordComma.