Home Special Smart Glasses: From Vision Correction to High Tech

Smart Glasses: From Vision Correction to High Tech

0
Smart Glasses: From Vision Correction to High Tech

The power of eyewear has come a long way since its inception. The first eyeglasses were invented in Italy in the late 13th century, revolutionizing the way people with vision impairments interacted with the world. These early glasses were simple convex lenses mounted on frames primarily used to correct farsightedness. Over the centuries, eyeglasses evolved, with improvements in lens technology and frame design enhancing both vision correction and comfort.

The Advent and Rise of Smart Glasses

Now, what we can expect from a pair of lenses goes far beyond vision correction. The concept of smart glasses marked a significant leap in eyewear technology. Leading the way was Google Glass, or simply Glass (Figure 1), which was introduced in 2013. Glass was one of the first to merge traditional eyeglasses with modern technology. When released, Glass resembled something more like what “The Borg” would wear, for those Star Trek aficionados, displaying information for the user on a head-up display (HUD) much like what you find in many of today’s vehicles.

Fig. 1: Google Glass can be controlled using the touchpad built into the side of the device. (Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_Google_Glass_wearer.jpg)

Glass’s journey unfortunately didn’t align with consumer readiness and market expectations, leading to its decline. In short, consumers were not ready for Glass. However, the evolving integration of advanced technologies is now fueling a renewed interest in the smart glasses sector.

Fast forward to today, and despite the setbacks faced by Google Glass, smart glasses have evolved into more practical and stylish wearables. Companies like Ray-Ban and Oakley have entered the market, focusing on aesthetics and functionality. This interest can be attributed to advancements and fusions in technology that have allowed for more stylish and less obtrusive designs, potentially overcoming one of the significant hurdles faced by Google Glass. Furthermore, there’s a growing interest in wearable technology as it becomes more integrated into daily life.

Additionally, advancements in augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) could transform how we interact with our environment, offering real-time information overlays and immersive experiences. The vast potential for medical, educational, and business applications indicates that smart glasses may eventually become prevalent in our daily lives.

A Fusion of Style, Advanced Technology, and Lingering Privacy Concerns

Today’s smart glasses are not only fashionable but also significantly more functional than their predecessors. Smart glasses are being designed for portability and daily use to enhance and interact with the real world. With smaller displays integrated into the lenses, they can overlay digital information without obstructing the user’s vision when displaying notifications, navigation, or camera functions. Also, smart glasses are generally more lightweight and designed to be worn like regular glasses, making them more suitable for continuous wear and everyday activities.

Meanwhile, AR/VR smart glasses continue to be bulkier, as their application is not intended for use while moving around or performing other tasks. These smart glasses are primarily designed for immersive gaming experiences, offering a fully virtual environment that replaces the user’s real-world surroundings with a wider field of view. AR/VR smart glasses isolate the user from their physical environment, while smart glasses are designed to interact with and augment the real world.

Unfortunately, there are privacy concerns surrounding smart glasses, which in part affected the success of Google Glass, and these issues have not necessarily been resolved. Smart glasses present unique privacy concerns compared to other technologies, such as smartphones. They can record audio and video more discreetly, that is, without the visible actions required by smartphones, such as holding up the device. This discretion makes it difficult for others to detect when they are being recorded. Additionally, smart glasses can continuously capture data while worn. Although some smart glasses have security features like file encryption, these do not fully address the issue of covert recording in public or private spaces. Furthermore, while the public is generally aware of smartphones’ recording capabilities, smart glasses are newer and less understood, leading to heightened privacy concerns.

Featured Products

This week, we highlight two innovative components from FRAMOS and PUI Audio, renowned for their dedication to quality and forward-thinking design. These components represent the pinnacle of modern technology, meticulously engineered for the emerging field of next-generation wearable devices, including advanced smart glasses.

The FRAMOS Sensor Module (FSM) featuring the Sony IMX296 sensor is a compact, high-performance module measuring just 26.5mm x 26.5mm. It is equipped with a Global Shutter sensor, offering a 1.6MP native resolution and a 1/2.9 optical format, with pixel precision at 3.45 x 3.45μm. The module supports a MIPI CSI-2 interface with up to 1-data lane capacity. Designed for seamless integration into various processing platforms, these modules demonstrate remarkable modularity, utilizing standardized connectors and mechanical parts. They encompass a resolution spectrum from 0.4MP to 24MP, with options for both rolling and global shutters, addressing a broad range of imaging needs. Ideal for sensor evaluation in early-stage design, the FSM facilitates comparative analysis and is easily integrated into third-party processor boards, enhancing its utility in diverse technological applications.

Design engineers focusing on smart glasses development can benefit significantly from the FSM-IMX296 Sensor Module with these additional key advantages:

  • Modular Design: The standardized connectors and mechanical components of the FSM make it highly adaptable, allowing for easy integration and customization in smart glasses designs.
  • Rapid Development: The interchangeable nature of the FRAMOS Embedded Vision Ecosystem components accelerates the development process, enabling quicker prototyping and testing for smart glasses.
  • Advanced CMOS Technology: CMOS sensors in the module allow for features like HDR mode and improved image quality, enhancing the visual experience in smart glasses applications.
  • Custom Development Options: FRAMOS offers custom development tailored to individual needs, providing design engineers with the flexibility to create unique and specialized smart glasses solutions.

The PUI Audio Piezo Haptic Benders, comprising three distinct models, offer significant advantages for innovative wearable designs, including smart glasses. The AB1270A-LW100 model is notable for its high-temperature resistance, enduring extreme conditions from -40°C to +85°C, making it suitable for wearables exposed to harsh outdoor environments or used in automotive settings. Meanwhile, the HD-PAB2001-LW100 and HD-PAB2701-1 models stand out with their low-profile design combined with high voltage and displacement capabilities, catering to demanding applications like transmission systems and medical devices such as blood pressure or insulin pumps. These versatile haptic benders, compliant with RoHS/REACH standards, are ideal for integration into wearable applications, offering robust performance in various conditions.

Takeaway

The evolution from traditional eyeglasses to smart glasses showcases remarkable technological and design progress. Google Glass, despite its initial setbacks, catalyzed renewed interest in this domain. Modern smart glasses, leveraging augmented reality and artificial intelligence, blend style with functionality, marking a significant leap in wearable technology. However, privacy issues, notably around discreet recording capabilities, persist as a major challenge. Addressing these concerns is essential for the broader acceptance and integration of smart glasses into daily life. 

In this evolving landscape, suppliers like FRAMOS and PUI Audio are playing a pivotal role in the development of next-generation wearables.