Ever since the very first version of our app, one of the most frequent suggestions from our users was to bring our software to a smart glass. This was understandable as this approach would provide a truly unobtrusive and hands-free experience of using Envision. This was especially important for several users while they were outdoors and had their one hand completely occupied with a cane or a guide dog.
With this hands-free concept in our minds, over the past several months we have been constantly testing with a wide range of smart glasses available in the market and validating their feasibility of working with the Envision software. However, several of the early pairs of smart glasses didn’t meet our expectations. They were either too expensive, too bulky, didn’t have good software support, had poor build quality, were too slow or too unreliable. We didn’t want to offer something to our users that was poor quality and didn’t provide a good user experience. We tested over 15 different pairs of smart glasses until we got our hands on the Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2.
After many iterative developments and support from the Google Glass team, we were able to build a prototype and test with our user group to the point where we are now confident about introducing it to our users. This will be first of our many smartglasses offering. We see this market heading in a positive direction with several big and small players creating their own versions of smartglasses. We will continually be testing with compatible smart glasses and when there is one that meets our standards and requirements, we will make it available to our users.
The first version of Envision Glasses is Envision working on a Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2. It has all the same functionalities of the Envision app, that can now be interacted with, without having a phone in your hand. Here are some key specs of these incredible glasses:
The Google Glass has the shape of a spectacle frame which can be worn like normal spectacles. The frame can either be left empty or be fitted with custom lenses based on the users’ preference. The left side of the frame is where the camera, the processors and the speakers are. The form factor is small enough to not be bulky or feel obtrusive and our early testers didn't find it to be stigmatising to wear in public. There is a small screen at the edge of the right frame, which however is redundant for our use case. They can be also removed if needed.
There is a Touchpad on the side of the glasses which is the primary method of interaction with the glasses. We had to build our own, custom version of TalkBack (the Google Glass doesn't yet support TalkBack) which allows you to scroll through the options and perform actions. There is a speaker at the back of the Glass, near your ears, through which you hear the output. You can also connect headphones through a USB-C port or bluetooth. There is also a physical button in the back to turn off or on the glasses.
It comes with a USB-C based fast charging and lasts up to 8 hours on a single charge.
The Envision Glasses, will have both online and offline functionalities, just like the Envision app. The glasses can connect to WiFi and also exchange information with your phone over Bluetooth.
We currently have a prototype of the Envision Glasses that we are testing with a closed group of users (you can read about how you can be a part of the testing below). We are simultaneously developing and finalising all the features which will be locked in by March. We intend to launch our finalised product and start a pre-order campaign at CSUN in March 2020. From that point on, we will work on finalising the operations and logistics around the glasses, aiming to ship it to the users who pre-ordered by July 2020.
We are still figuring out the cost of the glasses, especially the hardware part which is still dependent on Google. We will update you here (and by email if you sign up) when we have more updates on that. By current estimates, it could cost between $1000 to $1500, all inclusive.
We now have two videos to show you. The first one is a concept video demonstrating some of the use cases of the Envision Glasses. A new feature we will be introducing for the glasses would be the ability to make video calls to friends or family from within the glasses itself.
The second video is a summary of reactions from our users during the early user testing of the glasses:
For updates and user test session of the glasses, do sign up on our website here: www.LetsEnvision.com/glasses
You can direct your questions and queries about the glasses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Developing hardware is a resource intensive and expensive endeavour. It also happens to be the one we currently have less expertise in. Our major forte is software, hence we decided to find the best hardware to develop on, allowing us to be bring more value while keeping the cost of this as affordable as possible.
Yes, we will continue to test with new smartglasses that show up in the market. We are also currently testing several wired smartglasses that we could introduce if they meet our standards or quality and performance.
You can find it on the Google Glass' website here: https://www.google.com/glass/tech-specs/