Kenny 從事無線通信和微顯示技術工作超過三十年，涉獵數碼產品、手機、相機、智能手錶、智能電視等多個範疇，於 2019 年創立 Solos® 所樂思科技有限公司，與一班經驗豐富的工程師和眼鏡設計師專注研發智能眼鏡，至今已擁有超過 100 多項針對智能眼鏡而設的專利技術。「產品生產出來，最開心就是看到有人常常佩戴在身上。」
香港一直是眼鏡行業主要的推廣及採購地，「但普通的眼鏡公司受技術所限，很難發展智能眼鏡。」Kenny 指出Solos® 的母公司Kopin是主要為外國政府部門和企業提供先進可穿戴解決方案的供應商，因此智能眼鏡的核心技術自然是他們的市場競爭優勢。但Kenny 和他的團隊並非只是追求純科技化，「智能眼鏡的製作比智能手錶更具挑戰性，其外觀設計、重量和佩戴時的舒適度都是顧客選擇的關鍵。」
Solos® 提供不同的個人化風格選擇，可拆式眼鏡臂可配搭超過三十款眼鏡前框，更有近視、抗藍光、變色、戶外太陽鏡片等多款類型。Solos® 智能眼鏡至今已發展到第三代，針對用戶體驗給予的意見不斷調整產品，例如改用觸控按鈕、可直接水洗並可達到IP67防水級別，並加入更多智能互動新科技包括 WhatsApp 指定聯絡人或群組語音提醒、即時語音傳送訊息、語音助理對答等。「有用戶提出舊款充電線的不便，我們便將第三代改良為type-c插口，充電一小時就足夠一整天使用。」Kenny 希望繼續更新換代，甚至嘗試加入攝像鏡頭的技術，讓人工智能真正走入人們的日常生活。
跑步、跑山近年成為港人的熱門運動。「我自己也很喜歡運動，邊聽歌邊跑步已經成為習慣，但在路上用耳機塞著耳朵其實是頗危險的。」Kenny 為喜愛戶外運動人士特別設計Solos® Helium 第三代運動智能眼鏡，定向立體聲雙喇叭令用戶自在欣賞音樂，又能與四周環境保持聯繫。整個團隊也在音質上做了不少研發和測試，其BT藍牙立體聲更獲得音頻科技 Whisper™ 獨家專利，「即使在嘈吵的旺角街道，也能享受高質音效。」
該款運動智能眼鏡重量與普通太陽眼鏡相約，採用防油、防反光的 UV400 鏡片，專為亞洲人面型而設，並獲得美國消費電子展(CES) 創新科技大獎、香港工商業獎之消費產品設計大獎等多個獎項。Kenny 坦言獲得設計類獎項是對整個團隊的肯定及鼓勵，在 AI 軟件上，他們也將繼續更新，「九軸動態感測」為跑友們提供更多賽事及訓練記錄、姿勢檢查的新功能，協助用家持續提升表現。
「好的產品設計要易用！」Kenny 認為人工智能不只是針對產品，也是給用戶一套完整的服務，因此他們在產品包裝上採用二維碼與AI互動的功能，向新用戶介紹並解答產品資訊。Solos® 也嘗試為客戶提供更多選擇，從產品銷售到提供核心技術，以「power by SOLOS」的形式與日本、美國、中國內地等不同眼鏡品牌合作，提供可拆式智能眼鏡臂技術。
身處人工智能行業急速發展的時代，Kenny 分享自己堅持每天在網上瀏覽各類科技資訊和AI的新進展，也將一些好資源與團隊分享學習。品牌也積極參與不同展覽會，希望與同行溝通交流，更將於今年十月參與巴黎眼鏡展、香港國際眼鏡展，將產品和技術帶到更大的市場。AI還可以為大眾的生活帶來什麼？Kenny 與Solos® 團隊不會限制自己的想像和行動力，令科技隨時隨地成為我們的另一對「眼」，看見不一樣的世界。
A FRESH EYE ON AI
In movies with futuristic special effects, characters can sometimes access computer data by simply donning a pair of glasses. With the popularisation of artificial intelligence (AI), such hi-tech glasses are no longer purely a thing of fiction. Kenny Cheung, General Manager of Solos Technology Limited, points out that for people who wear glasses, they are the item they wear for the longest time each day, so he wondered why don't we apply smart technology to glasses just as it is applied to mobile phones and smart watches.
After working in the wireless communication and micro-LED display technology industries for over 30 years, Kenny has accumulated professional experience in a wide range of areas, including digital products, mobile phones, cameras, smart watches and smart TVs. In 2019, he founded Solos®, together with a group of experienced engineers and eyewear designers, a company specialising in R&D into smart glasses. To date, Solos® has over 100 patented technologies dedicated to smart glasses under its belt. ‘What pleases me most about a new product is seeing it worn all the time,’ said Kenny.
Kenny Cheung believes that the smart eyewear industry is about speed, so keeping up with the times is a must.
The small size and intricacy of the parts mean the R&D and production of smart glasses tend to be more challenging than that of smart watches and smart phones.
‘Transformers’ with Removable Parts
Hong Kong has long been a key marketing platform and sourcing hub for the eyewear industry. ‘But ordinary optical manufacturers are at disadvantage technologically when it comes to developing smart glasses,’ said Kenny. He revealed that Kopin, the parent company of Solos®, is a leading provider of wearable solutions for overseas government agencies and corporations. This gives Solos® a competitive edge in the core technologies of smart eyewear. However Kenny and his team are not only interested in technology. ‘Making smart glasses is more challenging than making smart watches,’ he pointed out. ‘The appearance, weight and comfort of the products are key to whether customers want to wear them.’
Solos® provides various customised choices. Removable temples can be paired with over 30 frame-front styles, in addition to prescription, blue-light blocking, colour-changing and outdoor lenses. Now in its third generation, Solos® continue fine tuning its products in response to customer feedback. For example, the products now use touch buttons, they are IP67 waterproof, which means they can be washed directly in water, and they feature interactive multiple-intelligence technologies, such as WhatsApp voice reminders for specific contacts or groups, instant messaging via voice command and voice assistant.
‘Customers told us about the inconvenience of the old charging cable, so we adopted a type-C connector for the third generation,’ said Kenny. ‘It takes only one hour of charging for a full day of use.’ He intended to continue to update his products, introducing camera lens technology that would truly enable AI to become a part of daily life.
Kenny believes that a well-designed product should be easy to use and keep fine tuning based on user feedback.
Solos® smart eyewear has a selection of stylish, light-weight frame-fronts that allow customers to curate their own glasses.
Running and mountain running have become popular sports in Hong Kong in recent years. ‘I love sports, and running while listening to music is a habit,’ said Kenny. ‘However, being on or near roads wearing earplugs can be dangerous.’ With this in mind, Kenny designed the third generation of Solos® Helium, a line of smart sports eyewear for outdoor enthusiasts. The product’s directional stereo speakers allow users to enjoy music while staying alert to changes in their environment. The team also conducted extensive research into sound quality. Its Bluetooth stereo technology received an exclusive Whisper™ audio technology patent. ‘You can enjoy high-quality sound even on a noisy street in Mong Kok,’ he said.
A pair of Solos® Helium smart sunglasses weighs virtually the same as a pair of ordinary sunglasses. Its oil-resistant, anti-reflective lens, designed for Asian face shapes, received, among other accolades, the CES Innovation Award in the US, which honours outstanding design and engineering in consumer technology products, and top prize in the Hong Kong Awards for Industries (Consumer Product Design category). Kenny said that awards are a source of affirmation and encouragement for the team, who will continue to improve the AI software. ‘Nine-axis motion sensing provides runners with a lot of useful racing and training data, as well as posture reminders, to help them to step up their performance,’ he explained.
Kenny and his team strive to improve the stereo sound quality of their smart eyewear so that users can hear well even in a noisy outdoor environment.
The third generation of Solos® smart sports glasses is equipped with a fitness tracker, which when used together with a mobile app, enables users to keep track of their running posture and sports performance.
Good Design Needs a New Outlet
‘A well-designed product should be easy to use!’ Kenny believed that adopting AI technology doesn’t mean to focus on the product only; it should offer customers a comprehensive service package. Therefore, they use AI-enhanced QR codes in product packaging for Solos® Helium, which provides new users with detailed product descriptions and other information. Solos® also offers options to its clients, including eyewear brands in Japan, the US and mainland China, from product marketing to core technology, through the format of ‘Power by Solos’ to offer removable-earpiece, smart-eyewear technology.
To stay abreast of the rapid developments in AI technology, Kenny reads a wide range of tech-related and AI news online on a daily basis, and shares useful articles with his team. The brand also participates in fairs and conventions to enhance their exposure and presence in the industry. In October, it will take part in the International Optics and Eyewear Exhibition (SILMO) in Paris and the Hong Kong International Eyewear Fair, where Kenny intends to share their products and technologies with a larger market. When asked what AI can bring to the life of an ordinary person, Kenny and the Solos® team answer that the sky is the limit when it comes to their imaginative and relentless efforts to provide us with eyewear that help us visualise a different world.