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Oakley and Intel pack a fitness coach into new pair of smart glasses

Agam Shah | Sept. 22, 2016
Oakley's Radar Pace smart glasses have a voice-activated coaching system, thanks to technology from Intel

oakley radar pace

For wearables to succeed, many people believe technology should be inconspicuous, not popping out and making a fashion statement of its own. Google Glass may have gotten it wrong, and Oakley and Intel may have done it right with the new Radar Pace.

At first glance, Oakley's Radar Pace sunglasses look undeniably cool. But hidden inside is technology that turns the sunglasses into a voice-activated coach that answers questions and provides fitness training recommendations. It's like having Siri in your sunglasses.

The sunglasses are expensive. At US$449, they have a hefty markup, but Oakley sunglasses and cool technology won't come cheap. The glasses will be handy for hard-core athletes, but Oakley is also targeting casual athletes. The smart glasses will start shipping on Oct. 1 in the U.S. and other countries.

Radar Pace has sensors that can track heart rate, distance, cadence, speed, and other vital workout information. The data is synced with a smartphone connected to Radar Pace via Bluetooth, where an app called Radar Pace App monitors the workout, answers questions, and provides voice recommendations.

Users hear the information through earphones in the sunglasses. A cool feature is the ability to ask questions through a microphone, with users getting answers back. The questions are passed on to the smartphone app, which formulates and sends back an answer to Radar Pace.

The voice-activated system can convey daily workout plans, or answer questions that will provide real-time information on speed, race, metrics, and heart rate to people wearing Radar Pace.

The smartphone app can analyze workout data in real time. For example, the glasses can advise a runner to increase the pace, slow down, or end a workout. The mobile app interprets and answers queries through a natural-language processing engine developed by Intel called Real Speech.

For example, a runner can ask questions like, "what's my heart rate?" or "what's my pace?" Voicing "time" or "distance" will prompt the app to convey the answers.

The smart glasses are a result of a two-year alliance between Luxottica, which owns Oakley, and Intel, which developed the core technology and architecture. Intel has pushed for technology to be invisible in wearables, and that design philosophy was the main focus when designing Radar Pace.

Many smart sunglasses for fitness are hitting the market. A notable competitor is Solos, which is a kind of Google Glass for athletes. Solos has a tiny heads-up display that shows metrics like heart rate, pace, distance, and cadence so athletes can see data in real time. It was used by U.S. cyclists in the recent Rio Olympics.

But unlike Google Glass and Solos, the Radar Pace doesn't have a screen. A voice-activated system works better because information on a screen can be distracting when cycling or running, Oakley officials said.

 

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