Augmented reality is one of the most exciting areas of wearable technology. Most of the buzz revolving around Smart Glasses is for their ability to merge virtual images with the natural world around us, hence the name “Augmented Reality”. Camera glasses also capture a portion of the attention, but often not for the right reasons, as experienced by the Google Glass project.
Japanese eyewear firm “Jins” which has over 300 retail outlets (270 in Japan, 30 in China) and is making a move to open its first US store in San Francisco, is putting a new spin on smart connected eyewear with their Meme glasses.
Instead of bringing maps, emails and other media in the form of holograms, the Meme smart glasses focus on bringing information about the user by utilizing sensors to track eye movement. There is no onboard camera, so users can’t be accused of spying , instead Meme are just regular glasses that can be fitted with neutral or prescription lenses.
Like other smart glasses, they connect to their companion app via Bluetooth. They’re equipped with a gyroscope, six-axis accelerometer, and electrooculography (EOG) sensors for tracking eye movement. The Meme smart glasses are leaning towards the fitness tracking genre with their ability to measure posture and identify when fatigue is setting in.
The question is, why would you want to do this? Posture analysis speaks for itself, but tracking eye movement for signs of fatigue isn’t so obvious, unless you’re prone to staring at screens for extended periods and need reminding that you’re straining your retina, or you’re a long-distance driver that needs to be informed by technology when you need to pull over and catch some z.
Along with eye movement and posture management, the Meme smart glasses also count how many steps you’ve taken, and calories burned.
The Japanese firm has high aspirations for their fitness tracking smart glasses. They’re apparently already in discussions with Japanese auto-part manufacturer “Denso” to explore ways of how the glasses could increase driving safety by alerting drivers when they need to rest. This may sound a bit ridiculous to some people who may argue that it would just be another distraction, or that they don’t need a computer to tell them when they’re tired. But, if you look at the stats on the number of people who actually fall asleep at the wheel, it’s surprisingly high, so maybe it’s not such a bad idea!
Jins are also looking into adding to project Meme with some ambitious applications, including interactive games where your eyes would act as controllers, focus-training exercises, tools to combat neurodegenerative conditions, and functions for measuring interest levels.
The glasses will be available in three styles; Wellington glasses, Half Rim glasses, and Sunglasses.
The Meme app is compatible with iOS and Android. Jins have opened up their API for third-party developers to get creative with their smart glasses, plus they’re sponsoring an event to reward the coolest application idea.
The price of the Meme glasses still hasn’t emerged, although the word is they won’t break your bank. Jins are hoping to release their intelligent eyewear before the end of 2015.