The eyewear + sound trend is spreading. A while back Bose introduced their Frames glasses with speakers and microphones. And now here’s the latest offering in this area, a partnership between Korean eyewear brand Gentle Monster and Chinese tech giant Huawei, who launched a range of smart glasses a couple of days ago, according to The Current Daily. These glasses have integrated microphones and speakers and Bluetooth technology to allow the wearer to answer calls by touching the frames and activate a voice assistant. As previously reported, several other tech giants are rumoured to work on their own varieties of smart glasses.
This week, Bose is rolling out their AR sunglasses for potential partners. And no, Frames, as they’re called, are not some new Google Glass-variety, where you add visual filters to your view. It’s more like a hybrid between headphones and glasses, or a portable smart speaker if you will. The temple of the glasses contain a microphone and a speaker which allows you to listen to music, take calls or speak on the phone while still being aware of external sounds. The glasses can also detect where you are and which direction you’re heading, and give directions. The idea is to combine the glasses with mobile apps for travel, exercise, games and so forth, but without having to use your hands or look at a screen.
This is not the first attempt to try to save us from our screens in later years. We have seen everything from bracelets and rings to smart glasses based on the same idea. But somehow it seems these attempts never really make it past the theoretical state. When it comes to the crunch, we still stick to our usual habits in practice.
Let’s see if this turns out differently.
The new smart glasses from Bose. Frames, as they’re called, come in two models. The smaller, rounder Rondo and the larger Alto.
Photo credit: Bose
They have already brought solar charged jackets and an indestructible kevlar hoodie to the world. Now twin brothers Nick and Steve Tidball, the men behind the clothing brand Vollebak, is releasing the first edition of a graphene coated jacket.
So what’s the deal with graphene then? Well, actually it is the thinnest possible layer of graphite, the same material that’s used in pencils. It’s only one single atom (!) thick, and also the strongest, lightest and most conductive material there is. Which makes it suitable for a number of things, now including clothing.
The Vollebak jacket is reversible, and is coated with graphene on one side and the other not. Depending on how you wear it, the jacket will interact with both your body and your surroundings in different ways. For instance, the jacket will not only conduct your body heat, but it can also store it and thereby functioning like a radiator. Also, bacteria can’t grow on graphene.
“When clothing can start conducting heat and electricity all sorts of cool things can start happening. It means that over the next decade your clothing can start to become a platform for other innovations. And that’s really what we’re interested in”, the team says in a press release.
In a press release about the event, Lorna, the founder of Lorna & Bel said:
”We see the fashion space as having limitless potential for all kinds of tech integration, big and small, especially with technology being so central to our lives. It is exciting to see brands integrating technology into fashion in fresh and innovative ways. The Wardrobe of the Future gives us a peek into how our wardrobes will evolve. It shows how fashion can put technology to work to give us performance-driven products that make our lives a little easier while still speaking the language of style.”
Lorna & Bel, bags with built in phone chargers.
Smart fabric clothing from Pyrates.
With the demise of several smart jewellery companies this year, it’s refreshing to see Swarg Tech’s new piece of smart jewellery Sahki, with its beautiful jewel embellishments. So what about the tech specs?
Well, apart from the fitness tracker and SOS trigger you see in most wearables, this one also has a child tracking mode and an integrated AI voice assistant to help you add items to your shopping list or switch on the lights for instance.
With the growing popularity of voice assistants, it is likely that the integration of them into smart jewllery might be a winning combo.
They both made tech look good on the wearer, while also helping to manage their electronic lives without having to pick up their phones. But now we have to say goodbye to two of the most promising wearable tech brands so far of the fashion tech era.
Ringly, founded in 2013 by Christina Mercando D’Avignon, sadly decided to exit the market just a little over a week ago. On the same day, WiseWear, founded by Jerry Wilmink and fronted by fashion icon Iris Apfel, filed for bankruptcy. Hopefully we’ll see new things from the creators of these brands in the future though.
Iris Apfel, wearing Wise Wear smart jewelry, with Wise Wear creator Jerry Wilmink.
Soon you’l be able to talk to Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant, in more places than in the e-commerce giant’s own device Echo. Now the company has taken yet another step towards becoming a serious part of digital every day life, by letting other companies use Alexa in their products.
One of them is a pair of smart glasses manufactured by the small company Vuzix Corp that’s going to be showcased at CES2018 in Las Vegas this week. The Vuzix Blade, as the glasses are called, can communicate with the voice activated digital assistant and also show information like for instance maps, directions, social media feeds or sport scores in the wearer’s view field, according to Business of Fashion. This is not the only third-party company that uses Alexas communication skills. In October, Sonos released a smart speaker with Alexa’s system for music playing.
Fashion-wise, they do have a long way to go though. Looking like your typical movie theatre 3D glasses, this is not the product that’s going to popularize the smart glasses, I am sorry to say. But I guess we’ll just keep on waiting.
Screenshots of The Vuzix Blade smart glasses, powered by Amazon’s Alexa voice activated digital assistant.