Have you been wondering what kind of smart glasses are available and how much they cost? After reading this article, you will hopefully have a better overview of different smart glasses on the market, what they can do and the price range they sell for (as of 2019)
The price of smart glasses varies quite a lot and depends on the functionality they have. Models with digital display tend to be on the expensive side with prices starting at 500$ (Solos Cycling Glasses). Most general purpose products with display are priced higher however and can be found around the 600$ – 1000$ range (Vuzix Blade, Focals By North, Epson Moverio).
Let does next look at these (and some other) products in a bit more detail. We are going to try to understand for what purpose you might purchase certain products and what you get for your money.
What Products Are There And What You Get For Your Money
Usually when people think about smart glasses, they remember various sci-fi films where the glasses display complex digital information and visuals in real time. They identify people and display information about them, show metrics about the wearer as well as the people and objects around them.
In reality, 2019 is not the year where the glasses are at this level yet. However, let’s start with some of the more popular smart glasses that have digital displays and see what they can do (and how much they cost).
One of the products you can purchase today, are Vuzix Blade smart glasses, which will set you back about 1000$–1250$ . These glasses enable you to display calendar notifications, weather info, incoming messages, etc. You can browse the web and stream video. With the built-in camera, you can take photos/videos and upload them straight to social media.
Using Alexa, you do not have to use the touchpad on the frames for all activities, but can rather use voice commands to ask for questions, play songs, set up appointments. See also the introductory video below from Vuzix.
Focals By North
These smart glasses by North (former Thalmic Labs) will cost you 599$. North has put a lot of effort in the looks of the glasses. They wanted to create a product that would look like your regular prescription lenses and have been quite successful in doing so.
To reduce bulkiness and avoid privacy issues, these glasses do not have a built-in camera. They do have a display that only you can see. With Focals, you can see and set up appointment and notifications, answer to messages and order Uber.
You can also easily navigate around unknown places and use the turn by turn guidance to find the right places. Alexa is there to help you with controlling the device and answering your questions.
One problem currently limiting the accessibility of this particular product, is that you have to go through custom fitting in one of North`s showrooms in Brooklyn or Toronto.
Epson Moverio BT-35E
Due to the bulky looks and also the functionality, these glasses are probably not the ones you wear regularly in your everyday life. However, they definitely have a variety of use cases.
You can use the adapter that comes with the product and use the glasses to mirror the display of your mobile or tablet. You could therefore use them to watch videos and movies while travelling for example.
Due to the good image quality and photo/video capabilities, BT-35E glasses are often used for drone flying for personal and also enterprise use. They are also used in theaters and museums to offer customers a more interactive user experience.
Enterprise Use – ODG R-9 / Google Glass / Microsoft Hololens
As mentioned in the foreword, smart glasses for enterprise tend to be priced higher due to more advanced and complex technology.
Google Glass Enterprise Edition does not have a fixed price. It varies based on the software customization, customer support and training needed. The predecessor, Explorer edition cost 1500$ so one might assume they are in the 1000$-2000$ range. In one of my earlier posts I also described several real life use cases for the Glass.
ODG R-9 smart glasses cost around 2000$ and offer an extra wide field of view. They are therefore suitable for various visualizations and gaming purposes.
Microsoft Hololens mixed reality headset will set you back between 3000$ – 5000$. This headset is probably currently as close as you can get to seamlessly mixing the real world with digital information/objects. Thy product has a variety of different enterprise uses which the following article lists nicely.
Audio Smart Glasses
If you want glasses that would be a bit cheaper, but still offer some of the “smart” things, then there are alternatives. Several companies offer smart (sun)glasses which function as normal lenses, but offer music playing capabilities, smart assistants and other useful functionality.
Zungle Smart Glasses
Zungle bluetooth smart glasses enable you to listen music, answer phone calls, and interact with smart assistants (Siri, Google Assistant, Bixby). Instead of regular earbuds, the sound reaches you through the bone conduction audio frames of the glasses.
First time wearers often describe this as a totally new experience, where it feels as the sound is coming from within your head. See the reactions and emotions from the following video:
Zungle glasses are currently available for 149.99$ and you can check the latest price from Zungle Website. Also feel free to check out my detailed post about best bone conduction glasses where Zungle glasses are also covered.
Bose Augmented Reality (AR) glasses
Bose has released smart audio glasses of their own that you can now get for 199$. In addition to listening music, these are first glasses that are trying to implement audio augmented reality (AR).
This means for example that as you are walking down the street, the glasses can theoretically tell you additional information about your surroundings and places to visit. As of beginning of year 2019, the functionality is still being developed. Once it is implemented, you can get it automatically via Bose Connect App.
Cheaper Alternative From Inventiv
A company called Inventiv has released an entry level alternative to the products above. So, if you want a “feeler” for smart glasses, with these sunglasses you can listen music, make hands-free calls and receive navigation directions.
If listening to (high quality) music is your top priority, then you should probably go for Zungle or Bose. However, if you want sunglasses that enable you to make hands-free calls and listen music on the background at a reasonable price, you can check them out at Amazon.
Camera Glasses, That Are Not So Smart
I pondered whether to include the following section in the article or not. It`s because glasses I am going to describe next, are really not “smart” by definition.
The glasses I am talking about, can take videos and photos. To my mind, this is a cool concept that has many applications in real life (life logging, adventure videos from point of view , vacation, etc)
Spectacles 2 By Snap
These groovy looking glasses, costing 150$-200$ at the time of writing have received quite a lot of attention. Mostly, because of the popularity of Snapchat which these glasses are built for.
The spectacles enable you to take up to 30 second HD videos or photos from your perspective. This is perfect when you are on vacation for example and want to share your activities and experiences with your friends and family.
The glasses are waterproof and with custom charging case you can juice up the batteries on the go. The limitation is that they are meant for Snapchat.
Kamre Camera Sunglasses
If you are interested in the idea of camera glasses and want something cheaper to capture your activities on video, you could check out these Kamre HD camera sunglasses from Amazon.
They offer relatively good video quality at a very reasonable price. I personally own these glasses and have used them for various sporting activities.
Why Are Smart Glasses Generally On The Expensive Side?
You really can’t say that smart glasses are cheap. This is probably also one of the main factors they have not gained greater popularity with the general public.
Can you guess what usually makes up the vast majority of the price of smart glasses?
It’s the display. In one of my previous articles, I described the two main technical approaches to achieving the see-through display of the glasses. Neither approach is cheap to manufacture at this time.
It can be expected that as time passes, the technology will advance forward and supply chain for display components will also become more stable.
This will quite certainly bring the prices down eventually and make the smart glasses more approachable to the wider public
Should You Buy Smart Glasses In 2019?
The answer is yes and no.
I have said that I believe smart glasses are the next big thing. The problem is that the current technology, products, functionality and the prices are at a level that do not quite add up yet (for personal use).
This is primarily for glasses with display. In the longer perspective they can offer a lot of possibilities, but currently give too little value for the price in my opinion. If you are indeed thinking of buying, I would recommend you think through what it is that you actually need.
When you want to make photos and videos with your hands free, then maybe cheaper regular camera glasses (without the “smart”) suit your needs . If you want to combine your glasses with music then smart audio glasses are a choice to consider.
For most people, smart glasses currently give too little additional value for the price and it`s probably the time to wait and see what the future brings.
- What Are Smart Glasses? How Do They Work? Use Cases
- Will Smart Glasses Replace Smartphones?
- How Do Smart Glasses Work?
- 10 Useful Benefits Of Smart Glasses You Might Not Know Of
- What Happened To Google Glass? Is It Alive?