Sony's Google Glass competitor is one step closer to the spotlight. The Japanese hardware maker has released a software development kit for its SmartEyeglass headset today (Sept. 19), with a developer's version of the hardware slated for March 2015.
Available for download from Sony's developer website, the SDK will emulate the upcoming augmented reality headset via your Android phone's camera (Android 4.1 required, 4.3 required for video functionality). The kit contains sample code to help devs get familiar with the software, as well as tutorials and developer guides.
Sony's official blog post outlines a few use cases for its AR wearable, including a facial recognition app, a cooking assistant that brings directions right to your lenses and a navigation app that lets you find food and shopping locales. When I tried out the headset at IFA 2014 in Berlin, I was able to utilize its version of the Wikitude app, which told me exactly how far away I was from the city's biggest landmarks.
The current iteration of SmartEyeglass is notably bulkier than Google Glass. The headset sports thick black plastic frames and thin, rubber-tipped aluminum earpieces, with a 3-MP camera on the left eye and a light sensor on the right. I found the prototype comfortable to wear during my time with it, but it seems a few iterations away from something you'd want to wear on the street.
Specs-wise, the SmartEyeglass sports a 419 x 138-pixel display, with an accelerometer, gyroscope and electronic compass inside to power its AR functionality. The wearable communicates with your smartphone via Bluetooth 3.0 or Wi-Fi, and includes a palm-sized controller for activating the microphone and navigating menus.
Sony continues to build on its SmartWear line with the Android Wear-based SmartWatch 3 and the fitness-minded SmartBand Talk, and SmartEyeglass could prove to be a worthy addition to that ecosystem. We look forward to spending more time with the headset, and hope to learn more about an eventual consumer release.