Sony releases SmartEyeglass developer kit

Sales to developers are planned before April

Sony's SmartEyeglass head-mounted display

Sony's SmartEyeglass head-mounted display

Sony has launched an SDK (software development kit) for its SmartEyeglass head-mounted display, another step toward challenging Google Glass.

The glasses can connect to Android smartphones via Bluetooth and project green monochrome text or basic graphics across a field within the lenses.

Sony said it will begin sales of the eyewear to developers by March 31, the end of its fiscal year. They will be sold in Japan, the U.S. and some European countries.

The Developer Preview SDK includes an emulator, tutorials, sample code and design guidelines to make the most of the device's hardware and senors including an accelerometer, gyroscope and brightness sensor.

The glasses, which weigh 77 grams, are more than 85 percent transparent and include a camera that can shoot 3-megapixel images and VGA video.

Sony has emphasized that the glasses project images to a user's natural line of sight, which differs from the Google Glass display set in a corner.

"Sony's competitive edge lies in our achievement of a thin lens with high transparency thanks to our unique holographic light guide plate technology, which enables us to provide a bright field of vision," a Sony spokeswoman wrote in an email.

"Furthermore, the screen size is large, and images and text are displayed from the front for both eyes (not only one eye) to facilitate easier viewing and prevent eye fatigue."

The price for the glasses as well as availability of a consumer version are still to be decided, she added.

Bulky prototype versions of the glasses were shown off at the IFA and CES electronics shows earlier this year.

Potential applications include displaying cooking instructions for chefs, running time for joggers and messages from friends.

Augmented reality-style functions are also possible, such as displaying information when a user looks at a certain bottle of wine, facial recognition or navigation information in an unfamiliar city.

Facebook, Gmail and Twitter updates can also be displayed on the lenses, as well as calendar reminders.

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