LAS VEGAS — Serious cyclists don't just want to train in a vacuum; they require data points like their speed, heart rate and distance. They want to interact with a coach in real-time and they may even want to know if they've received an email while they ride. It's dangerous to look down at your phone while zooming down the pavement at 25 mph, but what if all the data you needed was just a glance away?
Available for $499 this spring, the Solos Smart Glasses put a tiny augmented reality display, just above your right eye. The small, translucent screen shows relevant exercise stats drawn from your fitness band, heart rate monitor or other connected device. It also can get alerts from your phone and make calls, and you can control it all with your voice.
The glasses are the first consumer product from Kopin: a company that supplies the miniature screens used inside many of today's top AR headsets, Kopin screens also feature in a variety of military equipment, and other products, such as rifle sights and thermal imaging devices. With that kind of heritage, the Solos is able to take advantage of Kopin technologies such as Whisper Voice, which filters out background noise when you're giving voice commands.
I had a chance to try on the Solos Smart Glasses and found them both comfortable and powerful. The glasses look and feel like regular wraparound sunglasses; the small arm that holds the screen in place is the only hint that these are more than ordinary shades.
The 400 x 240 resolution screen does a good job of showing stats such as your heart rate and distance, but you need to adjust the arm a fair amount to get the screen in the right position. If the display is too high above your right eye, you'll have a hard time viewing it, and if it's too low, you may be able to see only a portion of it, or it may end up blocking your vision. I had difficulty positioning the screen at the perfect height. The good news, however, is that if you own the Solos, you can take the time to get the arm in just the right place; it will then stay put.
The internal speakers were extremely loud and clear. Because my headset was running a demo program, the audio kept repeating sample distance and speed statistics. I did not get to test the speech recognition capability, because that wasn't available on the unit I tried. However, I did get a quick look at the Solos companion phone app, which lets you configure the headset to work with your other devices, and shows you statistics, such as the distance you rode and your average speed.
Overall, the Solos Smart Glasses look like a hardcore cyclist's dream come true. We'll get an even better idea of their capabilities when they hit the market later this year.