Wearable tech has long been hyped up as the next frontier in the technology world, and the latest product in this growing market are smart sunglasses from Oakley. The famous eyewear company has partnered with Intel to develop the Radar Pace ‘smart’ glasses that allow you to receive real-time performance-based feedback without taking your eyes off the road.
We had the first glimpse of the pairing of these two companies at the Consumer Electronics Show back in January, and now they’re actually going into production we have a lot more detail about what is actually on offer.
And what is on offer is a product styled around Oakley’s Radar eyewear product with loads of technology integrated into the frame but which doesn’t appear to add much bulk or weight to what is normally a svelte and lightweight product. The smart eyewear connects to a smartphone app on iOS or Android which can relay all sorts of data to the glasses.
Oakley has also integrated sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, humidity and proximity) into the glasses, plus removable earphones and a microphone, which combine to provide real-time performance information. They’re also ANT+ compatible so you can pull heart rate and power meter data into the fold.
They’re designed to offer a hands and screen-free activity and performance tracking service. Using Intel’s Real Speech, you can speech instructions to the Radar Pace glasses, so you could ask what your current speed, total distance or heart rate is, and the glasses will tell you. The companies see the glasses acting as a sort of coach whether you’re running or cycling, providing information live during a workout.
You can also control functions with a touch pad on the left side of the frame, and use swipe and tap gestures to adjust the music volume, answer calls and access Siri or Google Now when connected to a compatible smartphone using Bluetooth.
The idea of connected eyewear isn’t a new one. Most famously there’s the now defunct Google Glass, plus Recon Jet (owned by Intel) which has put a working product into development that combines eyewear with a heads-up video display and integrated camera. And Oakley has dabbled in this area too, with its Thump MP3 glasses from a few years ago. These are a lot more capable, though.
The appeal of the Oakley Radar Pace is that you can keep track of the data that is most important to you on a ride, whether it be speed, distance, heart rate or power output, interval length or altitude, without having to take your eyes off the road and continuously glance down at a handlebar mounted screen. They won’t be for everyone, of course, if you prefer to leave your phone at home during a ride and go off-grid, you can really live without them. But if you like to be connected to all your data output, the idea of smart glasses might just appeal.
Says Intel: “Radar Pace is the result of years of research and development between Oakley and Intel, and is the result of two brands grounded in innovation coming together to push the boundaries in sport. The smart eyewear combines Oakley’s heritage in sports innovation and design, and Intel’s innovation and technology expertise for an unmatched performance experience.”
The Oakley Radar Pace is available now and will cost £400 from http://uk.oakley.com/radar-pace
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.