Back when rumors of Google’s fabled augmented-reality glasses began picking up steam, one of the most frequently repeated bits was that they bore a striking resemblance to (rather old) Oakley’s Thump mp3-friendly sunglasses. The concept that Google eventually revealed looked nothing like them, but it turns out Oakley may eventually throw their hat into the smart eyewear ring.
In a brief interview with Bloomberg, Oakley CEO Colin Baden revealed that the company has been working on a way to project information directly onto lenses since 1997. Once perfected, the technology would allow the company to create a rival to Google’s Project Glass
Baden neither confirmed nor denied that Oakley would release a pair of smart glasses, though he seemed to have quite a few thoughts on the subject. He mentioned that the glasses should be able to work as a self-contained unit as well as connect wirelessly to a smartphone via Bluetooth. Nailing down the means of navigation could be critical, and Baden suggested that the display could be controlled by voice commands.
Exactly what kind of information that the glasses will be able to display is another story entirely — Bloomberg reports that Oakley could target athletes with the heads-up technology they have in development, though their smart glasses would probably have to aim for a much broader audience if they ever emerge as a real product.
I’ll admit, the move seems like a strange one coming from a company like Oakley — they know how to make a handsome pair of glasses, but their previous efforts at fusing eyewear and technology haven’t quite made the splash they were hoping for. Putting the underwhelming Thumps aside for a moment, Oakley also introduced a peculiar line of Bluetooth-capable sunglasses a few years back, which I imagine most of us have never seen in the real world.
They certainly seem to be taking this new concept seriously though — a bit of poking around reveals that Oakley filed a patent for a “wearable high resolution audio visual interface” last September.