It wasn’t that long ago that the very thought of wearing a computer on your face sounded like a futuristic, sci-fi fantasy, right up there with flying cars. But while flying cars are still beyond the grasp of most mortals for now, so-called smart glasses are already here.
Smart glasses are essentially wearable computer glasses that function in a myriad of ways, depending on the type and purpose. Some models, like Google glass, have the ability to project and superimpose information onto the wearer’s field of view using either a transparent heads-up display or augmented reality overlay. Others can capture photos and videos, listen to music using bone-conduction technology, connect to social media, or access virtual assistants. In addition, depending on the model, smart glasses can operate using either hands-free voice commands, touch buttons, or a combination of both.
But smart glasses are also a relatively new technology. For those unfamiliar and looking to dip their toe into the idea of wearable computers, it can be daunting to figure out which is the right pair for you. Or like the best tech gifts, they might be great for someone you love. So we’ve compiled a list of the five best smart glasses currently available, so you’ll be multitasking like a pro in no time!
— Best Overall: Snap Spectacles 2
— Best For Audio And Video: iVUE Vista HD Camera Glasses
— Best For Music: Bose Frames
— Best For Social Media: Ray-Ban Stories Smart Sunglasses
— Best With Digital Assistant: Echo Frames
How We Picked the Best Smart Glasses
Because smart glasses are an up-and-coming technology, we didn’t have to scour the internet for too many products to come up with a comprehensive list. Even Google Glass, one of the first consumer pairs of smart glasses, is no longer commercially available as a retail product. As such, we narrowed down the list by choosing a selection of smart glasses that run the gamut as far as functionality. Whether your goal is simply listening to music or recording audio and video to more complicated features like social media integration or virtual assistance, we covered all our bases.
We also examined features such as battery life, though most of even the best smart glasses on the market are still limited in that capacity. Comfort and design was another aspect we honed in on, as some models tend to be heavier and bulky, particularly as you move from smart glasses to more of a virtual reality-style headset. Not only are all of the options we chose relatively lightweight and comfortable, but all are likewise virtually undetectable as being anything other than a regular pair of glasses or sunglasses. Explore new worlds with the best VR games.
The Best Smart Glasses: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Smart Glasses Overall: Snap Spectacles 2
Why It Made The Cut: Record stunning HD-quality photos and videos right from your own perspective with the press of a button from anywhere—even underwater which is why these glasses are the best smart glasses overall!
— Connectivity Technology: USB
— Image Capture Speed: 60 frames per second
— Weight: 9.9 ounces
— Price: $199.99
— Takes and syncs over 70 videos
— Charging case provides charging on the go
— Export in a variety of formats
— Lenses aren’t photochromic
— Maximum video length only 30 seconds
With two cameras for three dimensions, Snap Spectacles 2 smart glasses were designed with inspiration from the human eye but are powered by your imagination. Take HD photos or videos from your perspective with a quick press of a button. For example, to start recording a 10-second video, just press the button, or push it again to keep recording for 10 more seconds for up to 30 total seconds of video — with a maximum of 70 videos on a single charge.
You can sync wirelessly with Snapchat to view or personalize your favorite memories when connected to a smartphone. Or, export your favorite shots to your phone’s camera roll in various formats, including circular, widescreen, vertical, square, and more, and share on your favorite platform. Power up from anywhere with the included charging case, which can store up to four charges at a time. Then, simply recharge the case using the USB cable.
Finally, the glasses are water-resistant, so you can even take photos or videos under shallow water. However, some users were somewhat disappointed that the lenses aren’t photochromic and can’t be used indoors because they were designed solely for outdoor use. You can see new worlds indoors with one of the best lava lamps.
Best Smart Glasses For Audio And Video: iVUE Vista HD Camera Glasses
Why It Made The Cut: The lightweight design allows you to keep your hands free while recording all of your adventures from your point of view with a click of a button.
— Connectivity Technology: USB
— Image Capture Speed: 120 frames per second
— Weight: 10.2 ounces
— Price: $189.99
— Ultra 4K video resolution
— Records video at 120 frames per second
— IP44 water-resistant
— Microphone picks up wind noise
— Cannot be submerged
Easily capture ultra 4K HD video from your point of view with iVUE Vista HD Camera Glasses, the best smart glasses for audio and video which can record video at up to 120 frames per second for fluid and smooth video footage. In addition, the 70-degree wide-angle lens brings your videos to life by capturing more of what your eye sees within the video frame. In addition to indicator lights, the glasses provide vibration alerts when taking photos or when you start or stop recording for added ease of use. Likewise, the lightweight and durable polymer frames fit most head sizes comfortably, with high-quality polarized grey tint lenses.
The IP44 water-resistant rated design is tightly constructed with gaskets covering the ports, making them resistant to light rain, sweat, and dust. However, unlike some models, these smart glasses cannot be fully submerged to take underwater photos and videos. Likewise, although the microphone is strategically located to avoid wind noise, it may still pick it up when used in certain situations, such as riding a bicycle, for example.
Best Smart Glasses For Music: Bose Frames
Why It Made The Cut: Features such as miniature speakers and an integrated microphone set these audio sunglasses apart, and it still blocks up to 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
— Connectivity Technology: Wireless
— Image Capture Speed: N/A
— Weight: 10.93 ounces
— Price: $153.29
— Provides rich, immersive sound
— Integrated microphone for calls and virtual assistant
— Blocks up to 99 percent of UV rays
— Volume control is challenging to use
— Needs a special charging cable
Enjoy rich, immersive sound without the need for earbuds or headphones with Bose Frames. As the best smart glasses for music, these audio smart sunglasses are designed with miniaturized Bose speakers hidden in the temples for a revolutionary personal audio experience embedded in a classic design. The open-ear style audio allows you to listen to music while staying aware of your surroundings, yet others around you will hear practically nothing.
Another great feature is the integrated microphone, allowing clear calls and access to your phone's virtual assistant. You can also download the Bose Connect app, which provides access to personalized settings, tips, new features, Bluetooth connectivity for easy pairing, updates, and more. But even with all these tech specs, the sunglasses still serve their primary purpose: blocking up to 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
Some users lamented the lack of volume control and complained that it could be a pain to fish your phone out of your bag to raise or lower the volume. The smart glasses do come with “press and turn” volume control, so all you have to do is press the button on your frames and look left or right, but it’s unclear if that feature was added in later.
Best Smart Glasses For Social Media: Ray-Ban Stories Smart Sunglasses
Why It Made The Cut: These Ray-Bans are the best smart glasses for social media because you can listen to music, take calls, capture the world around you with photos and video, and then share it all right to your Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp accounts.
— Connectivity Technology: Bluetooth
— Image Capture Speed: 30 frames per second
— Weight: 49.6 grams
— Price: $299
— Three built-in microphones
— Dual 5MP camera
— Hyper-responsive touchpad
— Photo and video is set on a 1:1 aspect ratio
— Facebook account required
Developed in partnership with Facebook, Ray-Ban Stories Smart Sunglasses will ensure you’re always connected while keeping your eyes on the world around you. Using the Facebook voice control assistant, you can take photos and videos hands-free and stay immersed in the moment just by saying, “Hey Facebook!” Dual 5MP cameras automatically adjust to the light around you to provide high-resolution photos and quality video. Likewise, three built-in microphones capture sound in all directions, providing optimal quality for calls and videos. Discrete open-ear speakers allow you to listen to music or calls and then seamlessly pause to order a coffee or focus on the task at hand. In addition, the hyper-responsive touchpad provides another simple way of allowing you to turn up the volume or skip to your favorite track.
You can also easily create and share unique content directly to Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp by importing, viewing, and managing your photos and videos right from the smart glasses. However, it should be noted that a Facebook account is required for setup. And unfortunately, the 1:1 aspect ratio makes it difficult to upload content to other platforms such as YouTube or other social media platforms.
Best Smart Glasses With Digital Assistant: Echo Frames
Why It Made The Cut: Access everything Alexa can do with popular household Amazon Echo devices, but from the convenience of smart glasses that rest comfortably on your face.
— Connectivity Technology: Bluetooth
— Image Capture Speed: N/A
— Weight: 31 grams
— Price: $249
— Hands-free Alexa voice controls
— Lightweight and comfortable frames
— VIP filter to customize notifications
— Audio quality not as good as earbuds
— Frames may be too large for small faces
Designed to multitask and save time, Echo Frames provide hands-free access to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa so you can stay productive and organized and focus on what matters most making it our pick for the best smart glasses with a digital assistant. Using just these smart glasses, you can make calls, set reminders, compile to-do lists, get the news, control your smart home, and listen to podcasts, audiobooks, and more. Alexa provides the same great virtual assistance found in devices throughout your home in a wearable device.
Featuring a lightweight and comfortable build, these glasses were designed for all-day wear. The battery life provides two hours of talk time, Alexa interactions, and media playback over the course of a 14-hour day, or up to four hours of nonstop listening on a full charge. Since no two users are alike, they also come available in prescription-ready frames, polarized UV protection sunglasses, or blue-light-filtering lenses.
Open-ear audio directs sound to your ears while automatically adjusting volume depending on the noise level of your environment. Unfortunately, though, many customers found that the audio quality was lacking when playing music, in particular. Another issue is that these frames run big, so if you have a small face or features, you may find the glasses slipping down your nose.
Things to Consider Before Buying Smart Glasses
If you’re considering a pair of smart glasses, the good news is that it’s pretty easy to determine which type is best for you. The fundamental question you need to ask yourself is, what is the primary function you would like a pair of smart glasses to perform? For example, do you mostly plan to listen to music? Or maybe you’re intrigued by features such as hands-free photo and video recording that captures moments right from your perspective.
On the other hand, if you’re more of a professional on-the-go type, you may prefer smart glasses with virtual assistant capabilities built right in, so your calendar and to-do list are never far from the sound of your voice. Finally, of course, in the age of influencers, those who are social media-obsessed may prefer smart glasses with integration to your favorite platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and more.
Fortunately, price is not a huge consideration. Most of the best smart glasses currently on the market have a relatively similar price point, with most models ranging from about $150 to $300, depending on which features they support. And if not shopping for yourself, they also make a great gift for technology-obsessed friends and family!
Q: What is the battery life of smart glasses?
Most smart glasses were designed for all-day use. However, that’s on standby and doesn’t account for continuous use. As such, most smart glasses can hold up anywhere from two to six hours of intermittent use, depending on the model and functionality they’re being used for.
Q: Are smart glasses safe?
While there are no serious safety hazards involved with wearing smart glasses, they do have the potential to distract the wearer. Unfortunately, this could increase the danger to wearers and others, especially if used while driving. In addition, prolonged use may cause minor issues such as headaches, pressure in the eyes, problems with focusing, and difficulties with reading text.
Q: What is the difference between AR and VR?
The distinctions between VR and AR — or augmented reality and virtual reality — boil down to the overall experience and the devices they require. For instance, AR enhances a real-world setting and can be accessed with a smartphone. On the other hand, VR is entirely virtual fictional reality and typically requires a headset device for access.
Given that all of the items on this list provide such a wide variety of functions, deciding on the best pair of smart glasses may not be easy. That said, we love the photo and video capturing capabilities of our overall pick, the top-rated Echo Frames. Even though it doesn’t provide as high a frame speed as some other models, the ability to film underwater is a neat enough feature to set it apart. However, if you’re looking for more basic features, such as listening to music, you really can’t beat the Bose Frames.
For more enhanced experiences, check out the best VR headsets.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.