Technology & Science

Google Glass-like sport sunglasses unveiled by B.C. company

A pair of high-tech shades targeted at athletes was unveiled by a B.C. company Wednesday at Google's annual developer conference.

Recon Jet displays activity-specific information to athletes on the go

The Recon Jet is designed to display information such as speed and distance on demand. It has a feature that turns the screen on when it detects the user's gaze. (Recon Instruments)

A pair of high-tech shades targeted at athletes was unveiled by a B.C. company Wednesday at Google's annual developer conference.

An early version of the Recon Jet, developed by Vancouver, B.C.-based Recon Instruments, made its debut at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco.

The device, described by the company as a "heads-up display," is expected to become available later in 2013, is a pair of polarized sunglasses with a built-in computerized high-resolution display, sensors and devices that include GPS and an HD camera, and the ability to connect wirelessly to the internet and other devices.

The Recon Jet is designed to display "activity-specific, user-defined" information such as speed, distance and altitude to a runner or cyclist or GPS mapping information on demand.

The device has a "gaze detection" feature so that the screen "only turns on when you need it," the company says.

Unlike Google Glass, which features a screen in the upper right corner of a person's view, the Recon Jet's screen has a lower placement designed to be non-distracting and is opaque rather than semi-transparent.

The Recon Jet is operated via an optical touch sensor rather than voice commands, and can connect to smartphones and other devices via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ANT+, a wireless technology designed to make allow monitoring devices from multiple brands talk to one another.

The device already has apps that allow for video streaming, smartphone connectivity and Facebook integration, the company said. It adds that it offers an open software development kit that will allow developers to create apps for the device "for any activity" and is already working with some "top" fitness companies and communities.

Followup to high-tech ski goggles

The company has not said how much the device will cost, but describes it as "affordable" and "a great value proposition."

The Jet is a smaller, lighter followup to the company's Mod series of displays, launched three years ago, and designed to snap into a pair of ski goggles. The most advanced version, the Mod Live, ranges in price from $199 to $599 US, depending on whether a high-end ski goggle frame is included. Google is offering its glasses to developers at $1,500 a pair.

The Recon Jet is a followup to the Mod series of wearable displays for skiers and snowboarders, which snap into ski goggle frames. (Recon Instruments)

The Mod series is designed to provide information of interest to skiers and snowboarders, such as the user's speed, jump statistics, and navigation information. Its features include a "buddy tracking" app that helps skiers keep track of where their friends are and a trip-sharing app that allows users to post their data via their social media accounts.