While Google may have otherwise given up on the Glass smartglasses, Israeli company Everysight is ramping things up with its new Raptor cycling glasses, and the technophiles out there are going to love the absolute bejeesus out of it.
Although Everysight has been working on Raptor for nearly 15 years now, the company is finally ready to launch its ground-breaking product to the public (though pricing is still to be confirmed). Self-described by Everysight as being “the first true augmented reality smartglasses designed for life in motion“, the Raptor glasses are designed to provide its wearer with heads-up information without need for a separate GPS computer on the handlebars.
Others have attempted similar wearable tech products. There is of course the Google Glass, though that concept was never really designed for use in sporting activities. Then there was the clip-on LED display from 4iiii that was designed as an add-on to regular cycling glasses to provide the rider with a simple array of LEDs that would blink different colours to indicate various parameters like heart rate or cadence. But the Everysight Raptor is a completely different beast.
First however, a little background.
The Raptor has been engineered by Elbit Systems in Israel – a company with a reported annual turnover of $3 billion USD. Elbit Systems is one of the largest military defence contractors in the world, producing – in its own words – “defence electronic systems and integrated battle systems for air, sea, land and space“. Which sounds quite serious, and involves things like military drones, weapons systems for Apache helicopters, fuel tanks for F-16s, and unmanned remote control boats. Yeesh.
Back in 2003, Elbit Systems launched a consumer-focussed offset called Everysight. Drawing on the company’s extensive experience from producing heads-up display units for fighter jet pilot helmets, Everysight is integrating the same technology to beam information directly onto the right lens of the glasses, which produces an image directly in front of the rider.
It’s kind of like playing Pokemon GO! but with less creeping in people’s front yards.
Initially designing glasses for mountain bikers and road cyclists, Everysight is aiming to create an open platform that will be able to be modified and implemented for other sporting activities too. However, the brand saw the potential available in the cycling market early on, and so have concentrated both the design and feature list accordingly. So lets take a closer look at how it works.
Everysight Raptor Glasses Features
- Display: High brightness BEAM™ display projector based on OLED technology
- Grilamid® TR-90 frame
- Impact resistant & interchangeable lenses
- Adjustable nose piece
- Quad-core CPU w/2GB SDRAM
- 16GB/32GB internal storage
- Android OS
- Sensors: 3D accelerometer, 3D gyroscope, 3D magnetometer, Barometer, Proximity sensor to identify when Raptor is worn
- Navigation: GPS and GLONASS
- Connectivity: Ant+, Bluetooth 2.0, BLE4.0 (Bluetooth Smart), Wi-Fi -802.11b/g/n, Micro USB 2.0 for battery charging and data transfer
- HD Camera
- Audio: Speaker & low noise microphone for video recording and voice control
- Multi-Touch Pad for use with or without gloves
- Voice control
- Bluetooth remote controller
- Power / Display Sleepbutton
- Privacy LED to indicate that camera is recording
- Up to 8-hour battery life, rechargeable via USBMicro-B
- Weight: 3.35oz / 95g
- Accessories: Heart rate monitor (available with the bundled version), Bluetooth remote controller (available with the bundled version), Rx lens insert, clear lens for night rides
- Dust & Water Resistance: IP55
During this year’s PressCamp, I got a chance to check out the new Raptor glasses in the flesh, while also taking them out for a 15-minute spin on the road.
For the most part, the Raptor looks like a chunky pair of riding glasses. There’s a one-piece semi-rimless lens, an adjustable nose piece, and foldable arms. Hidden within those arms is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which powers the electronics involved in the system.
The feature list of the Raptor glasses is in a word, astonishing. Inside the frame you’ll find accelerometers, motion sensors, GPS tracking, wifi and Bluetooth connectivity, a camera, microphone, speaker, and an Android operating system with 16 or 32 gb of storage. Basically it’s a smartphone. And the fact that this is all contained within a glasses frame is quite frankly staggering.
But of course that’s not the Raptor’s big party trick.
Discreetly positioned just in the frame in front of the right eyebrow is an optical projector. It uses a curved surface to project an image onto the right-side lens, which then appears in your line of sight on the trail. The image can then be used to display all kinds of information – speed, cadence, power, average speed, a map, elevation, heart rate – basically whatever you want to have in view.
Unlike Google Glass, it’s this projected image that means you don’t need anything hanging off the front of the glasses in your field of vision. When Everysight first kicked off in 2003 it trialled a similar design to Google Glass, but then quickly realised this wouldn’t work for mountain biking and road cycling, and so went with the OLED design.
Here’s how Everysight describes it;
“BEAM is a proprietary and patented see-through display technology that crisply overlays information directly in the wearer’s line of sight using the lens itself as the augmented display thus avoiding peripheral distractions, eyestrain and eliminating opaque display elements that obscure the view.”
Otherwise the Raptor glasses feature the necessary features you’d expect from a regular set of riding glasses. The lenses are interchangeable, and there’s a clear lens option for those riding in dim (read: British) conditions. The nose piece is adjustable, which is crucial for getting the glasses to sit properly with your nose, and the arms are rubber tipped to keep them snug on your head.
Putting the icing on the cake, there’s an integrated HD camera for shooting in up to 1-minute video clips at a time, or for shooting still shots. And what’s really clever about the videos you record, is that they’ll have the same information that you see in real time overlaid onto the video files. So you can see exactly the point on the trail where you bonked and threw up.
Despite all of the electronic gadgetry, Everysight has done well to pack everything in to a relatively sleek package. Using a tapered profile, the glasses do bulk out towards the front of the frame, but because it lines up with the helmet rim, most of the bulk is hidden pretty well.
Having tried a pair of the Everysight Raptor glasses at PressCamp, I found them to sit quite well on my head, though the bulky arms did create some interference with the helmet harness. I’d like to see a more curved profile to the arms, or perhaps even an adjustable design to accommodate different heads and different helmets, but Everysight informed me that the design is still being refined, so the test glasses I used may be a little different to production spec.
We’re still awaiting confirmed RRP pricing for the Raptor glasses, but given what’s going on inside with these high-tech wearable computers, don’t expect them to come cheap. As to who they’re for? Basically anyone who currently uses a GPS computer and sees the benefit in having that information displayed in front of them so they don’t have to stem-check all the time. Racers in particular will likely dig the concept, and those who want a visible GPS route guidance system will also see the value in the innovative design.
For more info, head to the Everysight website.