Huawei’s designer smart glasses actually look good (and do refreshingly little)
Buried in a slew of recent product launches, paired down smart glasses could be a small but important step toward an AR future for mobile computing.
It wasn’t the main event, but during this week’s launch of Huawei’s P30 and P30 Pro, which also featured the unveiling of new Watch GT models and a pair of wireless earbuds, the mobile giant trotted out a largely overlooked pair of smart glasses. And glory hallelujah, they actually look kinda snazzy.
The glasses are the result of a partnership between Huawei and Korean eyewear brand Gentle Monster. Specs are sparse and no price was given, but here’s what we know:
The glasses are built around audio interaction. They feature dual mics and speakers in the temples and are designed with voice assistance in mind. Tapping the temple will enable a user to answer a call.
Behind games and entertainment, training and education and branded experience were most common use cases for augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality.
Gentle Monster is all about design, as its high-concept campaigns demonstrate. That allegiance to aesthetics is on full display in these specs. Because they don’t have cameras, which make most smartglasses look like something a dentist might wear during an exam, the tech package virtually disappears into a stylish frames with big lenses that gesture at classic aviators.
Gentle Monster CEO Hankook Kim gestured at the fashion-forward approach to wearables and, as reported by The Verge, managed to poke a competitor when he clowned Snapchat Spectacles: “How many people want to wear this as we meet our friends or lovers?”
It’s a fair question. Following the arms race in smartphones, many wearables manufacturers have been ham-fisted in trying to balance technology with form factors that don’t look garish. Smart glasses from brands like ODG are technological marvels enabling fully immersive augmented reality experiences. Despite getting smaller and sleeker in progressive models, they also scream: “I’m wearing a computer on my face.”
It’s apples and oranges comparing ODG’s crisp AR visuals to audio-only glasses from Huawei, of course, but the trend of starting with style and then seeing how much tech the design and the market can bear is a positive one for the wearables market. The recent shuttering of Intel’s Vaunt smartglasses project is revealing. In that case, great design garnered high marks from reviewers and customers but the frames were simply too expenses and packed with too much tech to be broadly appealing.
In that light, Huawei’s phone for your face (heard it here first) is an important baby step toward AR wearables.
The glasses are IP67 dust and water resistant. An accompany case allows for wireless charging of a 2,200mAh battery. The glasses are expected to hit the market sometime this summer.