20/20 VISION

Wearable tech finds a new home in smart glasses

Wearable tech has expanded beyond watches and wristbands to rings and necklaces, undergarments, and even thumbnail-sized sensors. Due to the abundance of time people spend on digital devices it’s estimated that half the population will need glasses by 2050 because of screens; innovations in eyewear are becoming the next step for wearables, with companies moving past the legacy of Google Glass to create more modern options.


Samsung is working on the next iteration of its Relúmĭno app, which was initially created to work with the brand’s Gear VR headset. Instead of relying on VR, the new version is a pair of smart glasses that enhances the wearer’s vision. Unlike tactile devices that help wearers with visual impairments, the glasses connect with a wearer’s smartphone, which processes video taken with the camera embedded in the glasses and displays it on the Relúmĭno lenses. The glasses have four different modes to help with a variety of vision issues.


Engineers at the University of Utah have designed a pair of self-focusing smart glasses that would eliminate the need for bifocals or multiple pairs of glasses for reading and distance. The glasses are made of liquid-based lenses and use a distance meter to adjust accordingly when a wearer is looking at objects near or far. The rechargeable glasses can last more than 24 hours per charge. The working prototype was one of my new tech devices displayed at CES, and the team plans to produce a more attractive version within three years.


The “smart” part of the Vue smart glasses doesn’t actually have to do with vision; the glasses are equipped with a fitness tracker and audio smarts. Outside of the traditional wristband, fitness trackers are also available in ring form and embedded in clothing; Vue plans to target current glasses-wearers first, then expand to consumers who don’t already don frames. In addition to the fitness tracker, the glasses use bone conduction audio to let wearers hear sound through the frames rather than wearing headphones.