Smarter smartphones, bike computers and fitness trackers have come to offer a wealth of information to cyclists on their performance, but they still invariably draw focus away from the road. At Interbike 2015, electronics company Kopin was showing eyewear aimed at placing ride data in a more convenient place, directly in the cyclist's field of vision. The Solos smart glasses pull metrics such as heart rate and average speed from connected devices to offer real-time feedback on cycling performance.
The Solos glasses sync with the user's smartphone over Bluetooth, which in turn syncs the eyewear with any third party performance measuring devices that are connected to the phone through ANT+. This is handled by the Solos app, whereby users can customize which performance data they want to tap into while in the saddle.
This information is then streamed to a 5-inch virtual display projected on the lower right hand corner of the lenses. So at glance, riders can keep across things like elapsed time, speed, elevation, distance, power, cadence or heart rate, without diverting their attention away from the job at hand.
For the majority of cyclists this small convenience might seem unnecessary, with a handlebar mounted smartphone or computer offering a perfectly capable riding assistant. But Kopin is aiming its smart glasses squarely at the sport's elite, for whom a break in rhythm brought about by a momentary downwards glance can make more of a difference.
The Solos glasses don't offer the full-fledged functionality of some other smart eyewear, such as the recently launched Senth IN1 cycling glasses that allow users the luxury of snapping photos and searching their music library. But equipped with integrated microphones the display can be controlled via voice commands, while speakers in the arms also play back audio alerts and performance cues. The screen will also display things like caller ID and notifications and offer access to social media.
The eyewear bears some resemblance to Recon Instruments' Jet smart glasses, which were released back in 2013. Kopin does look to be taking a less is more approach, however, with the Solos design eschewing features like a HD camera, GPS and an onboard processor and letting the paired smartphone handle the processing duties.
A lithium cell battery in the polycarbonate frame is said to be good for six hours of use, while the interchangeable polymer lenses offer UVA and UVB protection. The Solos glasses are expected to become available next Spring (Northern Hemisphere) and to cost under US$500.