Gear Watch: Goggles and Glasses with Heads-Up Displays

It's inevitable. Whether you like it or not, consumers will soon be selecting from a wide range of products that provide real-time, internet-connected information directly in their field of vision.

The Oakley Airwave, $599
The soon-to-be-released Google Glass has garnered most of the attention, but similar concepts and technologies are increasingly popping up in ski goggles and will soon be released in cycling and running eyewear as well.

Using such technology enables athletes to keep track of speed, elevation, and distance traveled, thanks to an on-board miniaturized GPS unit; shoot video from a camera embedded in the eyewear; wirelessly connect to other devices to display heart rate or stream music; and be alerted to incoming text messages and phone calls, among other things.

A story in today's New York Times lays out the potential and the perils of such eyewear, which certainly seem poised to increase the amount of "distracted living" that surrounds us.

Here's a quick snapshot of where the technology—and consumer products—currently stands:

Video-recording sunglasses have been available for more than a year now from Pivothead, and retail for around $300. I profiled their offerings in a post last year.

When it comes to ski goggles, the industry leader has been Recon Instruments, which partnered with Zeal to release the first iteration of their slick "direct-to-eye" technology (the Recon-Zeal Transcend Goggles) in late 2010.

The company has since significantly expanded the number of partners who are using the its heads-up display technology. Now most major ski companies offer at least one version of such goggles (featured in the above partners page), including Alpina, Oakley, Scott, and Smith Optics. Most retail in the $500 to $600 range.

No mainstream running or cycling eyewear has yet reached the market, though it looks likely that multiple products will be hitting store shelves within the next 12 to 24 months. Why? Recon Instruments has announced plans to sell a compatible device in the near future.

“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.