Microsoft earned some buzz earlier this year when it introduced its Hololens augmented-reality glasses device. Now, Sony is announcing plans to release a similar device of its own.
The Japanese corporation revealed today that it will launch the SED-E1 SmartEyeglass Developer Edition on March 10 for $840. Despite the “Developer Edition” label, consumers in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Japan will have access to the device through the company’s online store, and Sony will also sell it to “enterprise customers” in other European countries. The SmartEyeglass is available for preorder in Germany and U.K. right now, and Sony promises to put it up for sale in the U.S. and Japan soon. The device gives wearers a video overlay on top of their vision that provides relevant information like directions — it also has gaming potential in terms of location-based apps like Google’s Ingress. It is also a precursor of sorts to Sony’s take on virtual reality with its Project Morpheus head-mounted display.
Sony is just one of the companies trying to figure out the wearable-computer space. While Facebook’s Oculus VR company is the perceived leader in virtual reality, Microsoft has positioned itself on the cutting edge of augmented reality.
Compared to those devices, the SmartEyeglass already looks very stale. You can see in the demo video that Sony’s device acts primarily as an extension of your phone. It shows directions and text messages in a dreary green-and-black, and a cord dangles down from the side to a handheld controller dongle that you use to interact with the on-screen information.
Oh, and the glasses make the fashionable ladies in Sony’s demonstration look like the biggest dweebs on the planet.
Check it out:
Sony admits that it isn’t going for mass-market appeal with this release. It just wants to get developers working within its ecosystem. This is not unlike Google’s Glass project, which that company has recently scaled back.
Sony may find more success in this space than Google did But with the promising HoloLens and Oculus Rift already hogging so much mindshare for AR and VR, it seems unlikely that Sony’s bulky face computer will even catch on with developers.