Kopin Solos heads up display cycling sunglasses

Kopin, a brand calling themselves the world’s leading supplier of wearables and micro displays, has primarily focused on high end and military applications for many years.

More recently, as the cost of those displays has come down, they’ve found ways to commercialize those displays with some of the 3D virtual reality headsets making their way to market. For athletes, that also includes products like the Recon Jet, for which which they made the screen.

As these consumer products started taking off, they asked themselves “What are the changes in user behavior around devices?”

The answer would help them adapt the devices to modern users. That meant smaller sizes and better battery life. And for most folks, it meant their smartphone was tagging along for the ride. So, they could focus not on recreating a miniature computer, but on their their specialty: Micro displays.

The result is Vista, which is about one quarter the size of anything else out there. And they’re putting it on their new Solos sunglasses…

Kopin Pupil micro display

One of the folks behind the Solos is Dr. Ernesto Martinez, who has worked on exoskeletons and bionic parts at MIT Media Labs. He joined the team to develop a very sports focused, bio-inspired eyewear. The Solos differentiates itself from the Recon Jet in several ways, the first of which is the screen size – it’s tiny.

Kopin Solos heads up display cycling sunglasses

Where the Recon Jet’s screen is housed in a fixed position at the bottom, Solos’ housing pivots on a ball joint that allows you set it high or low, inboard or outboard, such that it’s in the least obtrusive yet most useful spot. The clear part of the arm lets you see through it rather than blocking a portion of your surroundings.

Kopin-Solos-heads-up-display-cycling-sunglasses-adjustment02

The articulating pod’s range covers about half of the lens from top to bottom, but the visual effect when wearing them is more dramatic. Lateral adjustments are mainly going to be made to get the screen angled so you can see it.

Kopin Solos heads up display cycling sunglasses

Above the nose bridge is a microphone with noise cancelling tech that ignores road noise and allows you to make voice commands. It also measures ambient noise to adjust volume for the speakers:

Kopin Solos heads up display cycling sunglasses

Stereo speakers are in front of the ear, not in it, but they project directly toward the ear. That allows for training cues and feedback to come audibly instead of visibly if that’s your preference. It also means you’re still able to hear ambient noise – traffic, pedestrians, riding buddies, etc.

Kopin-Solos-heads-up-display-cycling-sunglasses-app-screenshots04

Another key difference between this and the Jet is that the Solos’ HUD and it’s accoutrements are “dumb”. The Solos smartphone app is the brains of the operation. It handles the processing and lets you customize what’s shown on the HUD and what’s transmitted audibly. The benefit to this method is that the glasses themselves aren’t tasked with computing a lot of data, so they can be lighter and the battery can last longer. Up to six hours per charge, to be exact, thanks to an ultra-dense Simax lithium silicon battery.

Kopin-Solos-heads-up-display-cycling-sunglasses-display

The glasses pull all data from your smartphone via Bluetooth, so it will display or announce heart rate, cadence, power, speed, etc., using your phone’s GPS for speed and location. All other metrics will come only from devices that can connect to your phone. That means ANT+ sensors are supported only to the extent that your phone has ANT+. Fortunately, there are a growing number of Bluetooth speed/cadence/power sensors from Wahoo, Stages, Polar/Keo and others on the market already.

After the ride, data can be synced to Strava and Training Peaks. But, audio cues can come in real time directly from apps like Google Maps (navigation!), Strava, MapMyRun, etc. Eventually, they’ll be able to take data from those 3rd party apps and present the stats visually, too.

Kopin Solos heads up display cycling sunglasses

Whether the styling catches your eye or not, I did think they looked better on than just sitting on the table. The lenses are made of impact resistant polycarbonate and will likely come in gray, mirrored and either clear or yellow when they first start shipping. Lenses will be interchangeable.

Kopin Solos heads up display cycling sunglasses

It’s worth mentioning that the design here is still prototype and may change. They were soliciting feedback at Interbike to determine likes and dislikes, usability suggestions, and more. Got ideas? Leave ’em in the comments, they’re reading them.

Kopin Solos heads up display cycling sunglasses

Long term, they’re working to miniaturize the hardware even more, possibly making it so you could add it to any sunglasses. The trick is getting the weight balance and ergonomics right, as well as maintaining the right focal point. But they themselves 100% want to be able to do that, so our money’s on seeing it before too long. They’ve also had some discussions with large eyewear companies, so perhaps we’ll see it pop up on popular models. In the meantime, they looked at the popular models from Smith and Oakley to design something that mimicked what most of us are already riding.

It may be a few months before it ships, but they say price will be less than $500. Why get one? Mo’ metrics means mo’ problems if you’re trying to focus on the road ahead while also tracking power, heart rate, speed, etc. Putting that data stream in your peripheral vision lets you stay on top of it without looking down at a computer.

Solos-Wearables.com

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FoolCyclist
FoolCyclist
6 years ago

Its starting to concerning about how much fluff and crap everyone seems to think we need while recreating. To me the point of going riding is to disconnect from all this junk.

Zez
Zez
6 years ago

Calling all dads

Charlie Best
Charlie Best
6 years ago

Calling a computer related product Vista = Kiss of Death.

wepuckett
wepuckett
6 years ago

It would be interesting and more appealing if they offer a prescription option or insert for prescription lenses.

Freddie
Freddie
6 years ago

Strava cues could get out of hand….

Gunnstein
Gunnstein
6 years ago

A good stepping stone on the way to direct brain-machine interfaces, and beats the hell out of smart watches. Support prescriptions, and add an option for extended battery life for all day rides, and I might be placing my order. Also, make a non-sporty looking edition – not all of us like this look, and it’s useful for a lot more than sport. Or, as mentioned, make an add-on-version which can be put on our existing glasses.

But most important of all: Make the software open source, or at the very least make an open API, so that anyone can write their own software for it. People will come up with uses you never thought of, and add tremendous value to the product.

Tim
Tim
6 years ago

Me too on the prescription requirement. I can’t do contacts, so plain lenses won’t cut it. And serious ditto on the open API. If there were an open API and a module-only option, the applications are endless!

Aar
Aar
6 years ago

I think Gunnstein completely nailed it.

If an add-on version is not possible, maybe the expensive components can be made interchangeable between a few affordable frame styles?

Lisa James
6 years ago

This is certainly a welcome development! The potential of this product is almost boundless. Agree though with the previous comments that there should be models with extended battery life for long-distance rides.

RickyBob
RickyBob
6 years ago

Like road bikers needed something to make them look dorkier…

Seriously though, just because it’s a HUD does not mean its any safer than looking down at a handlebar display. I would actually argue that it is more dangerous because it is always right there in your field of view distracting you.

Gillis
Gillis
6 years ago

I’d be more apt to use this on my motorcycle. There are some HUD helmets in the works, but not made by Shuberth, and will cost a fortune. I’d rather have something like this that could give me dashboard info and map/directions.

Tim
Tim
6 years ago

I have always liked this approach to digest information. I would like this company to contact me, as I have a distinct use for this exact design in an overlooked huge market potential.

James Vickrey
James Vickrey
5 years ago

late to the party I know, I was thinking of communication between Garmin via Bluetooth, Garmin has all the hardware, just need to pull the data and alerts from them. Secondary thoughts, why glasses? Have a helmet unit, balance weight and ergonomics aren’t so critical and the user can still use his/her own glasses(thinking about those with prescription lenses).
I would have made one myself however Garmin refused to give up the bluetooth protocol so I could continue. I was thinking ant+pic+micro display, that could work well.