Sony unveils technology to make any eyewear smart

By Aditi Pai
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Sony smart glass attachmentSony has developed, not a pair of smart glasses, but a device that attaches to any piece of eyewear to make it smart.

"This display module possesses the potential to enrich users' lives in a variety of ways," Sony writes in . "By simply attaching it to a pair of fashionable glasses, goggles, sunglasses, or other type of eyewear, you can instantly gain access to visual information that adds a level of convenience to your everyday life."

Sony's technology will be shown in January at CES as a concept and it will be equipped with a high-resolution OLED microdisplay, WiFi functionality, an accelerometer, a touch sensor, and an electronic compass. The attachment will weigh approximately 1.5 ounces.

The company plans to launch a software development kit (SDK) for this module so developers can use the module to create wearable products for specific use cases. Developers will have the option of either loading an app onto Sony's smart glass attachment or connecting it to a smartphone app over WiFi. The company said it would start mass production of the module within the coming year.

"Many situations spring to mind in which hands-free display of information would be extremely beneficial," Sony explains. "For example, when cycling, playing a round of golf, or engaging in some other outdoor sport, attaching this module to a pair of sports sunglasses and pairing it with a smartphone would enable you to access valuable information such as course maps or distance readings, even when your hands are tied. Using the module for coaching purposes, in concert with an application for sports use, could prove extremely effective as well."

The company doesn't point to healthcare providers as a potential customer base for the device, even though a handful of providers have been testing Google Glass in their workflow for over a year. Recently, physicians have discussed the shortcomings of Google Glass -- that the device may need a few more upgrades before they can use it efficiently in a healthcare setting.

In October, Dr. Steven Horng, the emergency department lead for the Google Glass Project at Beth Israel, highlighted a few of the technical limitations his team had run up against with Glass.

“The first is processor power,” Horng said. “This isn’t a device that was meant to be worn as a heads up display that’s on 24/7 that’s constantly looking for voice commands. That’s not what Glass was built for, it was meant for episodic use. Using it in this way drains the device like no other. Glass [when used by consumers] is meant to have a battery life that lasts for quite a while, for us it lasts maybe two hours, maybe one. If you turn on all its features, probably less. You can certainly add on a battery pack, and that’s what we did, to get us to 12 to 14 hours. But then you have the processor going all the time and with external charging, this makes for a very, very hot device that is perhaps sometimes dangerous.”

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