Consumer smart glasses that don’t make the wearer look like a complete dork are getting closer to reality. Osterhout Design Group, which makes military smart goggles, showed off a pair at CES 2015 that’s closer to something Bono might wear than Google Glass.
ODG’s smart specs are still bulkier than regular sunglasses, but not by much: The glasses weigh a little more than 4 ounces, and I found them quite comfortable. More important, the glasses look pretty nice. The design (based on Wayfarer sunglasses) might be on the beefy side, but at first glance they look simply like big sunglasses, and not some weird gadget that’s bolted onto your head.
One weakness of the design is that the top of the lenses are blocked by a plastic housing that contains the tiny projectors that create the virtual screen in front of you. After all, they have to go somewhere ? side-mounting would elongate the front, and you only have to take a gander at the Epson Moverio to see why that’s a non-starter for consumers. Surprisingly, though, the housing doesn’t occlude your vision much at all.
The virtual screen looks great; ODG says it’s a high-def display that conjures up a virtual 720p screen floating a few feet away from your face. Checking out some apps, picture quality looked fine. I could read text on icons and documents perfectly, even with objects behind the screen, and I didn’t feel any of the discomfort that augmented-reality systems sometimes create.
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