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Why 'invisible smart glasses' are the perfect wearable

Mike Elgan | Nov. 7, 2016
Dozens of companies promise conspicuous, bulky and expensive smart glasses. But the best idea is regular glasses that are smart.

Vue smart glasses have bone-conduction pads on both sides (Google Glass needed optional earbuds because the design allowed bone conduction on one side only), a tiny LED light on the inside of the temple near the frame on the right side and a tiny microphone embedded in the right temple. A touch screen graces the outside of the temple on the right side -- but they don't look like they're touch controls.

The flashing light alerts you to incoming messages and emails, and you can choose what the blinking means in the settings section of the app. The LED light is positioned to get your attention, but to be invisible to others.

The bone conduction pads let you hear any sound you might normally hear through earbuds, including Siri or Google Assistant, phone calls, alerts, audio feedback, music, podcasts and so on. (Vue claims patent-pending technology that prevents others from hearing anything from the bone-conduction speakers.)

The best thing about bone conduction is that you get sound without anything entering or covering your ears. So you can have access to the audio cues all day without the discomfort of wearing earbuds. And if you do need to listen to music or take a longer call, your ears are free and you can do so without removing the glasses. (Note that bone conduction technology is not an acceptable replacement for earbuds when it comes to music. It's fine for notifications and even short phone calls. But the audio quality is nowhere near even cheap earbuds or headphones.)

The touch screen on the outside of the right temple offers four gestures, which users can customize: single tap, double tap, swipe and long press. For example, you could use the single tap gesture to answer a call and the swipe gesture to go to the next email.

Vue is building an online tool for choosing the right prescription lenses, and is working with an FDA-approved lens maker to handle prescription lenses, according to Rowley.

An accompanying app will run on iOS and Android, and will provide a range of features and options. For example, you can track your glasses if you lose them, monitor your steps, and get estimates of distance traveled and calories burned.

You can charge Vue glasses by inserting them into the included charger case. Like Apple's AirPods, the Vue glasses' case includes its own battery, so you can charge the glasses on the go without plugging into an outlet. Vue claims up to three days of standby time with the glasses themselves, and up to seven days of standby battery life when you combine the total charge of the glasses and case.


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