Sony shows off latest SmartEyeglasses prototype

The glasses have a basic green text display and feel a bit like a computer monitor from the 1980s

A second-generation prototype of Sony's SmartEyeglasses on show at IFA in Berlin on September 5, 2014

A second-generation prototype of Sony's SmartEyeglasses on show at IFA in Berlin on September 5, 2014

The latest prototype of Sony's SmartEyeglasses, a head-mounted display used with a smartphone, is on show at this week's IFA electronics show in Berlin.

The device has clear lenses and a thick plastic frame, built that way to hide the electronics, and can project green-colored text across a wide portion of the lens resulting in a very different experience than that of Google Glass.

Whereas the Google product puts a color display in a corner of the wearer's field of vision, the Sony glasses project over a great portion of the lens but the green text and basic graphics shown by the glasses are reminiscent of a computer monitor from the 1980s, albeit at a higher resolution.

The glasses have a bit of a clumsy feel because they are so large and that image isn't helped by an additional wired control unit that houses additional electronics and handles communications with a smartphone.

But the system is still a prototype. Sony hasn't announced any plans to sell it and any eventual commercial product might look very different.

Several apps loaded in a companion smartphone are capable of interacting with the glasses to provide location and context-aware information.

One of the main apps, Wikitude, was demonstrated overlaying the direction and distance of transit stations on the wearer's field of view. A Sony representative said it can also provide additional information when, for example, the wearer looks at a wine bottle.

Cookpad is an app that shows recipe information, allowing the wearer to cook and follow a recipe while avoiding getting dirty hands on a cook book, and Local Life will, for example, provide information about events taking place in the local area.

An additional setting screen in a paired smartphone appeared to indicate it is also possible to display Gmail updates, Facebook posts, RSS feeds, calendar reminders and tweets on the glasses.

Sony unveiled the first prototype of the glasses at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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