Smart gadgets are taking over homes, the office, manufacturing plants, and other sectors. So it comes as no surprise to see the popularity of smart glasses. The best smart glasses enable you to create and view videos at home or the office, fly UAVs (drones), and increase efficiency in manufacturing among other uses. There are, of course, raging debates about smart technology in general including questions like is it lessening our ability to live up to our full potential and is AI taking jobs from the human workforce? No matter what end of the spectrum you are on it is impossible to deny the fact that smart technology like smart glasses enhances our everyday life experiences.
The best smart glasses perform well in tests by some of the best software experts in the industry. This is a continually evolving market that has made incredible strides from the Eye Tap digital eyeglass of 1998-9. Industry experts like professor Steve Mann predicted the evolution of eyewear becoming a camera and a display as well. And going by their popularity smart glasses are not going anywhere.
What You Need To Know About Smart Glasses
Smart glasses have come a long way from being viewed as geeky contraptions. However, questions about them still abound. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions surrounding these devices.
Can smart glasses be used to invade my privacy?
When the prototypes came out (Google glasses) there were accompanying ethical issues around the potential invasion of privacy of other people around the wearer. For example, the wearer could easily record videos or take photographs of others without their knowledge. Employers also weighed in on potential legal implications should employees take pictures or videos of sensitive internal documents or meetings. However, with the strict invasion of privacy laws in place, the use of smart glasses is regulated. Anyone who uses them irresponsibly will be held to account as having violated the right to privacy of the other person.
Are smart glasses safe?
The biggest challenge when it comes to safety includes obstruction in the peripheral vision and concern for the wearer during activity. Coupled with the fact that so far little regulation exists for these augmented reality glasses it remains an ongoing area that the companies are working on. Smart glasses are still a novelty that is growing and as future conversations continue some of these issues will come to an end.
Reputable companies like Vuzix that produce some of the best smart glasses recommend that you do not allow children under the age of seven to use these glasses. That is because their eyes are still learning to focus and track and so their vision is immature.
How does augmented reality work?
Augmented reality is taking real content and integrating it into virtual reality. You can access real information or data using a virtual interface. Unlike virtual reality, which immerses you in a completely fabricated reality, augmented reality is more popular and has distinct commercial success because people engage in reality -- even as they use it.
Can I use smart glasses every day?
The best smart glasses companies like Vue offer glasses for everyday use. For example, students use smart glasses to enhance their learning experience as they can apply various learning skills simultaneously. Other daily uses for smart glasses could include manufacturing plants as well as during military operations. You can also get prescription smart glasses.
Best Smart Glasses: Most Important Features
Before going in to get yourself a pair of smart glasses, you should make sure they have the following salient features. These ensure you have an optimum experience.
Wide field of view
The field of view is the area covering the eye on an optical device. On the best smart glasses, this area should be wide to provide a larger canvas for display. A wider display also allows you to have a better immersive experience. The best smart glasses try to match the human eye’s 180-degree field of vision.
Smart glasses optics is the way that the glasses present the images to the eye. They use three patterns: curved mirrors, waveguide, and the near eye. The waveguide optics use red, blue, and green channels laterally from the glasses display to the eye. Curved mirrors pair reflective mirrors and a projection system placed directly in front of the eye. The near-eye optics use a 90-degree prism to reflect images onto a miniature LCD screen on the periphery of your vision.
Resolution refers to the number of pixels in the display that affect the sharpness of the images. High-resolution is best because it allows users to have better immersion in their experience. The best smart glasses even allow you to manipulate 3D objects. Go for smart glasses with 720p or 1080p.
The price range for the best smart glasses on the market is between as little as $20 to as much as $2000.
How We Reviewed
Our review looks at the technology and the performance of the smart glasses on our list. We also look at the professional and customer reviews to see honest consumer opinions from people on the ground who use these glasses and industry pundits.
Top Smart Glasses
Augmented glasses manufacturers claim to offer you exceptional features in these face-worn computers. The smart glasses on our list deliver on everything from excellent performance to ease of use, all of which are among the most important things to look for in the best smart glasses on the market.
- Vuzix M100 provides the features and capabilities of a modern smartphone, without a cellular radio, in a hands-free wearable device.
- Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity makes it easy to pair with another Android device or connect wirelessly with Wi-Fi to the Internet. Battery : 550 mAh rechargeable internal battery
- The M100's integrated camera captures 5 megapixel still images and 1080p high-definition video. Video and image capture can be stored directly on the M100's memory (expandable up to 32 GB) or streamed live.
- Dual noise cancelling microphone
Slim and lightweight little contraption is a true departure from the old bulky smart glasses that first came out. It fits very well on standard eyewear being a small gadget that perches on the ear somewhat like a hands-free mobile phone kit. It works with Android OS allowing you to interface with your smartphone comfortably. The display is in front of only one eye and will enable you to read and send text messages, take photos and record/view videos.
The camera is five megapixels with 1080p (1920 by 1080) resolution. It connects to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi allowing you to access information on a computer or the internet. It comes with voice recognition making it completely hands-free.
With this offering, you have 32GB storage and 1 GB RAM. Unfortunately, it is not compatible with popular DJI drones apps. That limits its use for drone operators. However, because it allows you to connect to GPS and compass systems, you are always aware of your location making it ideal for the outdoors. It has an average customer rating of 3 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Also available on the Vuzix website the average price range for this product is between $$ to $$$.
- Ideal platform for developing AR apps -seamlessly blend digital content into the world around you with this highly transparent si-oled display.
- From the world leader in projection technology -revolutionary si-oled micro-projection technology for sharp HD images with amazing color and contrast.
- Light, comfortable fit -world's lightest si-oled-powered, binocular, transparent smart glasses, only 2.5 oz/69 g; easy to wear, even for extended periods of time.
- Packed with sensors -motion-tracking sensors in the headset and controller, Plus a front-facing high-resolution camera make it ideal for 360-degree, hands-free AR apps and more.
- Compatible Devices: Dji, Android
This offering from Epson has a futuristic look especially when the shades drop on. The glasses have the design of everyday eyewear but with a chunkier construction. They are comfortable both solo or on top of prescription glasses. The resolution on display is 1280 by 720 pixels although the five-megapixel camera records in 1080p (1920 by 1080) resolution. These glasses are compatible with DJI drones, and because of their spectacles design, they are easy to wear for long periods of time.
The BT-300 are compatible with the Android 5.1 OS and allow you to enjoy a binocular display. They have 32 GB worth of storage space and 2GB RAM. They lay claim to being the lightest Si-OLED powered binocular smart glasses in the world. Si-OLED is a microdisplay technology which allows the glasses to assimilate content and display it with even better high-density pixels. The display is also transparent allowing you to keep an eye on things around and beyond the display. Customers on Amazon have rated the Epson Moverio BT-300 3.5 out of 5 stars. You can also buy it on Epson.com. The price ranges between $$ to $$$.
- Theia is equipped with a HD Camera, enabling you to take pictures or videos with just a press of a button. No more pulling out a device, opening an app and focusing on camera to capture an image. Just look and capture with a press of a button.
- Comes with a built-in flashlight, letting you make the most of your travel expeditions. Be it hiking or just a backyard night-out you can now focus on it, and not worry about searching flashlight or your smartphone app
- Theia has 8GB built-in storage letting you store your favorite tracks for you to sit back and enjoy. It can also be connected to your phones by Bluetooth to take calls on the go or listen to music
- The magic of 'Drive Safe Assist' beeps an alarm every time you feel drowsy behind the wheels. Making you drive safer!
- What else -THEIA would be THE wearable camera you'll love wearing all the time
These are the best smart glasses for constant travelers. Not only are they comfortable to wear for an extended period they are also quite lightweight. They are pretty simple to use and are intended for functionality. These are the most basic smart glasses on our list, but they are popular because they are not complicated.
They come fitted with an HD camera that efficiently captures video and stills. They also have a drive safe assist technology that wakes you up with a beep if you ever become tired at the wheel. With 8GB storage for your music tracks and other content, you can really kick back with these smart glasses. They even come with a flashlight for use during your travels.
Compared to other offerings on this list it is pretty basic, but that is the whole point of these glasses. They're for relaxation, not for working or heavy content. The ICE Theia glares are available as sunglasses and reading glasses and have an average customer rating of 3.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon. With a price range of between $ to $$ these glasses show that you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy smart glasses
- Technical Features: Vista Pupil display (widescreen WQVGA 16:9 microdisplay), microphone and microspeakers with 2-way communication,
- Wireless: Bluetooth Classic, Smart 2.4GHz, ANT+ sensors
- Battery Life: 5+ hours
- Battery Type: Li-Ion
- Mount Type: sunglasses
Looking like traditional cyclists glasses these smart glasses have won the heart of users who want discretion together with their technology. These feel like your everyday cycling glasses only they have a small display on the lens. What makes them the best smart glasses is that you can track your work out data in real time as you move. The display is five inches with excellent high resolution, and it even cuts out glare during sunny days.
These glasses work with apps like TrainingPeaks and MapMyRide among others even helping you with navigation. The display is smaller than your pupil, so it doesn’t obstruct or distract the view ahead or around. You can work the little arm which holds the lens to get the best focus. It has great audio controls that allow you to hear above the noise of the wind and other outdoor noises. It has ANT+ technology that makes it compatible with all smartphone IOS.
The Solos have been used by the US Cyclists team, so you are using a device tried and tested by professionals. The glasses have raving reviews by users on several platforms including vimeo.com. You can buy from solos-wearables, and the general price range for this product is $$ to $$$ depending on where you buy.
The ODG R9 is an expensive offering but worth the money nonetheless. They are arguably the best smart glasses on the market because of the numerous features they have. They come with 6GB RAM and 128GB internal space. The pair also has two lithium batteries allowing you to use them for quite a while.
The display is dual and stereoscopic, and each has a resolution of 1080 pixels at full HD. Also dual are the five-megapixel cameras that capture footage in stereo. These glasses also have an additional camera that records 4K video as well as another wide angle option for tracking and positioning.
They have sensors for altitude, light, and humidity as well as a gyroscope and accelerometer. The pair is compatible with Android Nougat OS, so it works with the millions of android friendly apps. They also use the Snapdragon 835 processor.
With professional reviews from industry leaders like CNET, USA Today, and Techcrunch these augmented glasses have made an impact in the smart glasses industry. They are available to buy on Osterhoutgroup or aniwaa.com. The price range is between $$$ to $$$ depending on where you buy from.
- Lightweight, Comfortable 3D Active Glasses
- 70 hours of 3D Viewing Per Battery (Includes Two CR1620 Batteries)
- Compatible with all D, E, EH, FH, ES, F, and H series Samsung 3D TVs
These are the Samsung offering for smart glasses. They are great for watching videos in 3D allowing you to enjoy some downtime thoroughly. They work just as well for work-related videos. The immersion experience is high quality, especially for entry-level smart glasses. They are full HD and are proven to work with projectors from Epson or Panasonic 3D TVs although they may not be compatible with every other brands and model.
They are light and have a great field of view allowing you to have a full and rich 3D image. Once you are ready to watch a video power your TV and set it on 3D mode and then power the glasses. You soon begin to see a clear depth to your images.
These are also another budget option for smart glasses.
It is meant to give you an incredible viewing experience without the demanding high tech manipulations that come with high-end options. It does go through the battery a lot, so you must ensure you have a strong charge before use. You can buy this on Amazon where it has a customer rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars. It is also available on Samsung.com. It has a price range of $ to $ depending on where you buy it.
- High Definition Virtual Display - Clear Enough for Video and Text
- HDMI Compatible - Can Connect to Any Device Capable of Outputting 720p
- Magnetic Docking Station - Easily Attach When you Need it and Pocket it When you Don't
- Internal Battery - For a 90 Minute Runtime.Charging- 5v Micro USB
- Highly Portable - Small and Incredibly Tough
If you have an application that needs multiple displays like editing this is the device to transform your regular glasses to the best smart glasses. It enables you to have the display right in front of you. It utilizes HDMI and is compatible with any device that has a resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels. You are, therefore, guaranteed crisp and bright images.
Vufine+ offers users three different modes, and it works very well with drones. The adjustable viewing on this offering allows you to tweak it to the angle most comfortable for you. It is a great tool when working in real time. For example, when referring to notes, samples or visual references because it keeps you in focus of your work at all times.
It is not Bluetooth compatible, so you cannot connect to the display wirelessly. Customers have rated this product at 3.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon. It is also available on bhphotovideo.com. The price range is between $$ to $$ depending on the vendor.
The Best Smart Glasses
The best smart glasses are not necessarily the most expensive. Options like the affordable ICE Theia glares, and Samsung Active 3D glasses are excellent for downtime and are not demanding in use at all. However, the Solo-wearables and the ODG-R9 make an excellent case for more advanced smart glasses. That is why the ODG-R9 is our pick for the best smart glasses of 2018. From industry experts to augmented reality enthusiasts the consensus across the board is the features, construction and overall performance of these glasses are outstanding. If there is any pair of glasses that makes a case for smart glasses, it is the ODG-R9. They are hands down the best smart glasses on the market right now.