Sony’s SmartEyeglass is a head-turning Google Glass alternative

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Sony's SmartEyeglass is somewhat clunky-looking Google Glass competitor

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While Sony’s smartphone division hasn't exactly been on the up-and-up, the company still isn't afraid to try its luck down new roads. Sony today announced its own heads-up-display-packing wearable, known as SmartEyeglass. The headset, which is designed to pair with Android smartphones, offers a built-in camera and several sensors.

Much like Google Now-powered Android Wear smartwatches, Sony’s new head-mounted wearable is designed to provide the user with context-aware information, right when they need it. The device makes use of a CMOS image sensor, coupled with an accelerometer, gyroscope, electronic compass, brightness sensor and a microphone.

As you might expect from a head-mounted wearable, there’s also a camera on board (3 megapixels). SmartEyeglass is technically compatible with smartphones and tablets running Android 4.1+, but you’ll need to be running the more recent 4.3 release onwards to make full use of the wearable’s camera.

Sony has used “unique hologram optics technology” for the device’s lenses, which offer a transparency of 85% and are just 3 mm (0.12 in) thick. The projected display is monochrome and reportedly easily readable in a variety of environments. The headset will draw GPS data from the tethered smartphone or tablet, with that device running the apps and pushing data to the wearable.

SmartEyeglass is clearly designed to compete directly with Google’s much publicized Glass wearable. But while the Mountain View-based firm has spent years encouraging development of practical applications for its headset (the Explorer Edition release of the product is currently available for early adopters), Sony’s platform is much earlier on in the development process.

It’s likely that SmartEyeglass developers will be able to feed off some of the creativity we’ve seen in Glass applications (such as its use as an aide for Parkinson’s sufferers), but it’s likely to be some time before the level of functionality catches up.

To get the ball rolling, Sony has today released the SmartEyeglass Software Development Kit (SDK) for developers, while highlighting some potential uses for the tech, including the ability to provide heads-up walking directions or player stats while watching live sports.

The second big obstacle that the wearable will have to overcome is its clunky looks. Wearers of Google’s Glass headset turn more than a few heads walking down the street, and it looks pretty tame by comparison.

That said, the version currently on show is a development prototype, and even includes an external controller that houses the device’s battery and microphone. It’s likely that the final release will be far more streamlined ... or at least we'd hope.

Sony hasn’t announced a roadmap for a consumer release for SmartEyeglass, but plans to make it available for sale to developers by the end of the year.

Check out the video below for more on Sony's SmartEyeglass wearable.

Source: Sony

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