Oct 31, 2016 | By Alec

For many, the Google Glass experiment was a failure. Not only did the 2014 release fail to live up to its hype, but it also looked extremely unappealing and unpractical. At least that latter problem isn’t affecting the Vue, which could become the world’s first pair of smart glasses designed for everyday use. Designed through 3D printing, they look like a regular pair of designer glasses, are compatible with prescription lenses and are discrete enough to wear constantly.

In fact, co-developer Jason Gui is already wearing a prototype all the time, and few people would guess that he’s wearing anything unusual – aside from the fact that the prototype’s 3D printed frames are less smooth than those of ordinary glasses. Aside from that initial drawback, the Vue smart glasses should become virtually indistinguishable from a standard pair of glasses. Unlike the Google Glass, all the smart features are embedded into the frame and lenses, while still enabling users to answer calls, listen to music, receive notifications and a lot more – thanks to a convenient touch interface embedded into the frame arms.

That ‘normal’ appearance is doubtlessly one of the biggest reasons for the immense Kickstarter success of the Vue, which has already raised more than $225,000 in pledges – having only launched last week. It looks like the Vue is on the verge of tremendous Kickstarter success. The glasses themselves were born from the minds of a team of four University of Pennsylvania graduates, who have brought a diverse range of product development together for this remarkable product.

Among others, they have previously developed a smart Bluetooth headset and other wearable electronics – which prepared them for this groundbreaking Vue smart glasses. “Glasses are the first ever wearable,” Gui says of their concept, “but they haven’t really changed in the past several centuries.” In this case, they sought to reduce the number of things you carry on your person by embedding them into the glasses. And thanks to wireless audio (reaching your brain via bone conduction), a built-in pedometer, haptic notification and a noise-cancelling mic, so much is possible.

But where the Google Glass is incompatible when you already wear glasses, the Vue actually continues to act as glasses at a basic level and clients can order prescription lenses that are embedded into the smart frame – just as they would in normal glasses. This fantastic feature is already available with this Kickstarter, and backers can include their specific prescription in a survey sent out after the campaign’s conclusion. “We are partnering with a qualified lens manufacturer who will then manufacture the correct lenses for your pair of Vue. When Vue ships, the prescription lenses you specified in the survey will already be installed in the frames,” they say. “You’ll have the choice of prescription (including progressive), photochromatic transitioning, polarized, and prescription polarized lenses.”

Aside from that very welcome feature, the Vue also ensures that glasses remain the type of expression vehicles that they are now. That means choosing from a variety of colors, textures, and shapes to best suit yourself and your style. Right now, two frame styles are available, as well as three colors (black, brown and white) and three temple piece (the legs) options. Sunglass lenses are also available.

The Vue delivers on the smart features too. Among others, it includes a ‘Find My Glasses’ feature that uses an app to track your mislaid glasses, while fantastic bone conduction audio technology transfers stereo sound to your inner ear without the need of earbuds – allowing you to hear the world around you simultaneously. Gesture control and frame swiping lets you go through messages, phone calls and playlists, while the Vue even acts as a navigation tool that lets you keep your eyes on the road and uses audio and LED notifications to keep you focused.

These are just the initial features embedded in the Vue, which will feature an open API to accommodate as much app development as possible. “Developers can access sensors in the frames, including the accelerometer, gyroscope and touchpad, to enable entirely new features for Vue,” the Vue team says. Other features currently under development are nodding, shaking and tilting controls, allowing you to answer calls just by nodding, for instance.

But of course such features can drain a battery too, and even here the Vue features a very clever solution. “When was the last time you stuck a USB into your glasses to charge it? We never had to, either, and that's why we made Vue easy to charge. Just pop it into the case overnight or when you're not using it, and Vue will get charged automatically. With the charging case, Vue’s battery lasts up to one week,” they say. Even the case itself looks fantastic. Power itself is preserved using a low power mode that switches on once you take off your glasses.

It’s clear that all the ingredients for success are present, and the Vue’s appeal will doubtlessly also benefit from the excellent price tag of just $159 (with prescription lenses) for early bird backers. Delivery of the Vue is scheduled for next July.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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