Your phone and watch just used to be for calling your friends and family and telling you the time, now look at all the amazing things your smartphone and smartwatch can do. The same goes for your glasses. Eyeglasses were originally used to help correct your vision or block the sun on a bright day. Now smart glasses can play music, provide data on your health, navigation when you’re traveling and receive your phone’s notifications.
But smart glasses are not necessarily new. Remember Google Glass? Google Glass was supposed to be the next big innovation in wearable technology. Well, that didn’t quite go as planned. Google launched Google Glass in 2013 and was discontinued just two years later for mass consumer use, although it still has business relevance. Turns out people don’t want eyewear that looks like something out of Johnny Mnemonic.
Fast forward to 2021, and we’re starting to see smart glasses that have useful technology and insights, but also look stylish (for the most part — there are still some outliers in the style department). But what benefits do these wearables provide? Are they worth the price?
What Smart Glasses Do
Today, you’ll find a variety of different tech that constitutes smart glasses. Some smart glasses, like the Bose Frames, provide the ability to listen to high-quality music without the need for headphones. While others, like Amazon Echo Frames, provide access to Amazon Alexa without the need for your phone or other devices, as well as letting you hear (not see) your notifications, take phone calls and play music, all without the need for another device.
You might be thinking, well, do any of these have visual tech? Smart glasses like Everysight Raptor were created for cyclists and motorists. Information such as how fast you are going, how far you’ve traveled and your heart rate all show up on your lens, much like how a heads-up display works for your car.
Others have augmented reality or AR which is somewhat similar to virtual reality. Instead of immersing you in a completely different world like virtual reality headsets do, AR adds elements of virtual reality that can be seen in the real world, much like this giant raven flying around before the start of the Baltimore Ravens game (even though that raven was only seen on TV, and not by fans attending the game). This technology can improve gaming experiences and has untapped potential in the business world.
The Future of Smart Glasses
Smart glasses have come a long way in terms of style and technology since 2013, but still have a long way to go. Currently, many of the smart glasses available are from startup companies or smaller retailers. According to Wareable, tech giants such as Facebook are looking to enter into the smart glasses arena in 2023, and Apple has been rumored to be in the mix as well. And we’ve only seen the beginnings of what Amazon and Google have to offer the smart glasses space. Big tech is looming, and we anticipate the tech to only get better and better this decade.
The Best Smart Glasses for Sale in 2021
If you hop on Amazon, you’ll find a lot of “smart glasses” that are cheap or don’t really offer any smart tech that’s worth consideration. The smart glasses tech space isn’t necessarily new, but there still aren’t a ton of options for early adopters.
Below you’ll find our recommended and reputable picks for the best smart glasses available right now.
1. Bose Frames
The Bose Frames are where style and tech combine into a great-looking package. You can hear music loud and clear, and the audio quality is outstanding as well, but still allow you to be completely aware of your surroundings, making them ideal for commuters, bikers and runners. But they are fashionable enough to be your everyday sunglasses. They can stream about 3.5 hour’s worth of music on a single charge and integrate seamlessly with your phone’s virtual voice assistant.
2. Echo Frames (2nd Gen)
You no longer have to be near your Amazon Echo or Dot to have the power of Alexa at your beck and call. Just say “Hey Alexa, give me my to-do list today” and Alexa will tell you — and only you — what you have on your docket for the day. Beyond that, you can listen to music, podcasts and control other Alexa-connected devices from anywhere. You can even take calls on your phone without reaching for it. These specs last about four hours when listening to nonstop audio or around two hours when focusing on talk time.
Echo Frames (2nd Gen)
3. Vuzix Blade
You’d be hard-pressed to find more tech inside of a pair of smart glasses right now. These smart glasses have WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, built-in speakers and AR capabilities. Not to mention you can record 1080p video thanks to a front-facing camera. They are also Alexa-enabled and can receive all of your notifications from your phone. One caveat, they are more expensive than some premium smartphones.
4. Spectacles 3
Snapchat junkies will love Spectacles 3. You won’t need to reach for your smartphone when inspiration strikes for a snap story. These specs are armed with two HD cameras and four microphones to capture great quality video that can be transferred to your Snapchat account. You should be able to record and upload around 70 videos per charge.
5. Everysight Raptor
We wouldn’t necessarily call these specs stylish, but those who want great insight on their travel and workouts will appreciate the on-lens display. The digital displays are non-intrusive and the full outstretched lenses completely protect your eyes from oncoming debris when you are biking or commuting. But like the Vuzix Blade, you certainly pay for all the on-board tech.
6. Vue Classic
A more mild implementation of smart tech, the Vue Classic will notify you with a subtle LED when you have an incoming call. But that’s not all. These stylish specs also count your steps, calories burned and your distance covered for the day. There are also built-in speakers in the frames so you can listen to music as you go about your day. These aren’t super tech-heavy, but they are arguably some of the most stylish out of the bunch.