Just one month after Google suspended sales of its Glass smart eyewear, Sony is jumping in to take its place with SmartEyeglass. The Japanese electronics firm announced Tuesday that it is taking orders for a developer edition of its new wearable to be released March 10.
Selling in the U.S. for $840, the SmartEyeglass Developer Edition features camera-equipped and sensor-equipped eyewear that connects with a wire to a separate controller device. The controller, which supports near-field communication, includes a battery, speaker, microphone and touch sensor.
SmartEyeglass has the potential to be used in a wide range of scenarios, according to Sony. In addition to making it available to individual developers in the U.S., U.K., Japan and Germany, Sony will also take orders starting March 10 from enterprise customers in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
Glass-Like Challenges Ahead
Already facing criticism for being overpriced and "dorky," SmartEyeglass will likely encounter the same market challenges that led to Google's decision last month to halt sales of its $1,500 Glass. While Google Glass was embraced by some users in the tech, military, travel and other industries, it also saw a backlash by those who viewed the technology as intrusive or creepy.
"The advent of industrial strength voice interfaces coupled with early stage 'stronger' AI is screaming for novel human interfaces," Samim Winiger told us last month. Part of the small team behind Cyborg Unplug, a device designed to "sniff" out and disconnect Glass and other surveillance-enabling wearables, Winiger added, "Google Glass (or moreso, the public perception of it) was not able to grow into a[n] adequate interface for these rapidly evolving services and thus the brand has been difficult to maintain."
Google and other tech companies are looking at smart wearables such as Glass mainly as an extension of their data services, Winiger said. With that philosophy underlying the business model for the technology it's clear there would soon be new incarnations of such hardware, he added.
Eyeing 2016 Commercial Sales
When connected with a compatible Android smartphone, Sony's SmartEyeglass will enable users to view monochromatic content and images via the lens' user interface. Those capabilities hold great potential for use by, for example, workers in a manufacturing plant or security officers investigating problems or breaches, according to Sony.
Weighing in at 77 grams, Sony's device includes a camera for both still and sound-free video image capture. It's powered by a lithium-ion battery that can last 150 minutes without camera use, or 80 minutes with camera use.
By releasing the SmartEyeglass hardware along with an updated version of its software development kit, Sony is hoping that developers will find even more uses and develop even more apps for the device. The company said it envisions having SmartEyeglass ready for commercial sales to both consumers and enterprise customers in 2016.
Posted: 2015-02-17 @ 12:51pm PT
Only 150 minutes? That's only two and a half hours...That sucks for something that is supposed to be such a technical advancement. At less than $840 I can get a tablet and smartphone with apps that will do almost everything the SmartEyeglass can do.
Posted: 2015-02-17 @ 10:25am PT
Same problem as I had with Google Glass concept: Without a keyboard and browser, I don't see any use for the technology in what I do on a daily basis. My Android smartphone does better in that sense than either Google Glass or Sony's new toy.