Now more practical than ever!
It may be too early to call this one a 'trend', but there will be a nifty selection of fancy smart electro-goggles at CES 2011. Anyone who grew up reading a lot of Cyberpunk knows that connected glasses mean we are just one or two steps away from virtual samurai sword fights and corporate extraterritoriality. It all starts in Vegas next January.
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The Summit Series HD goggles are a little too bulky for every-day wear, which makes sense since they're built for snowboarding or skiing. They have a rugged, bulky outer-frame and the ability to survive a fair amount of wet before they kick the bucket. Up top is an integrated wide angle HD camera. The camera can take 5 MP shots or 720p HD video at 30 fps with audio. We're looking at $250 for a pair.
You'll want to budget some cash for a microSD card too. These goggles only have 16 MB of flash memory, but they can take up to a 32 GB card. Battery life is about 2 hours of constant recording.
Next we've got the Recon Instruments Transcend. These goggles actually look badass enough to be worth taking out on the street. You'll still get weird stares from every passer-by, but that'll just be due to jealousy. These GPS-enabled goggles act as an actual heads-up display. They give you your speed, latitude and longitude, altitude, vertical and total distance gone, temperature, and time. They can display a stopwatch mode and also have a run-counter mode.
Last, we have the Active-i Sunglasses from Interactive Group. While the previous two devices were not designed for 'city-wearing', the Active-i actually looks like a fairly normal pair of wraparound shades. You could actually wear these without making everyone you pass confused and uncomfortable.
The Active-i sunglasses have polarized lenses, video/audio recording and playing. The camera can shoot for up to two hours, and you can play your video by plugging the glasses directly into a television.
All three of these offerings are pretty neat, but what we really need is a pair of shades that LOOK like the Active-i but pack in a feature-list as rich and cool as the Transcend. A heads-up display and real-world travel/environmental data with GPS integration and maybe even access to some sort of AR app, in a body that won't make you look like a huge weirdo.
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We'll need another year or two of miniaturization before something like that becomes really practical. But the tech is moving in that direction, and the Transcend is proof that some VERY cool things can be done with this form factor. Hell, in another five years we could make Geordi La Forge a reality.