Sony Releases Google Glass Alternative

Why the futuristic eye wear is different from Google Glass.

February 17, 2015, 12:11 PM
PHOTO: A person is pictured wearing Sony's SmartEyeglass in this image.
A person is pictured wearing Sony's SmartEyeglass in this image.

— -- With Google back at the drawing board for Glass, Sony has seized the opportunity by releasing its own version of augmented reality glasses.

Perhaps the biggest difference between both pairs of futuristic eyewear is the price. At $840, Sony's developer version of its SmartEyeglass is about half the price Google Glass was sold for until sales were halted in January.

The group behind Glass announced a reorganization and plans to re-imagine the next iteration of the product, which had been dogged by everything from privacy concerns to a perceived dorkiness. The high price point and a certain attitude of some wearers also spawned them a new nickname: Glassholes.

A Sony spokesperson did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment. In an email to PCWorld, a Sony spokesperson said they chose to release the developer's version now because "as a hands-free device, SmartEyeglass can be a promising product with many practical uses."

"But since we recognize the need to explore applications at this stage, we're releasing this developer edition," the spokesperson said.

While Sony's offering is a relative bargain compared to the first edition of Glass, there are similarities between the two that Sony will have to overcome.

Like Glass, the thick-rimmed SmartEyeglass can be worn at all times as they superimpose images into the wearer's field of view, however they're no more aesthetically appealing than Glass.

Sony is marketing the glasses to many workplace use cases, such as getting hands-free assembly instructions before your eyes -- something that could benefit mechanics. However, the company has also touted entertainment uses, such as getting sports stats in real-time while the wearer enjoys a baseball game.

While Google integrated its full functionality into the eyewear, SmartEyeglass has an extra controller component that provides touch navigation and allows users to speak commands into it.

Perhaps the biggest issue Google Glass was a concern for privacy. The recording capability of the eyewear led to it being banned in many locations, including some movie theaters, restaurants, strip clubs and bars.

It remained unclear what, if anything, Sony would do to knock down the biggest barrier Glass faced.

SmartEyeGlass uses Bluetooth to connect to a user's Android apps -- including the camera, according to a video on Sony's website demonstrating the glasses.

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