Inside A Pair Of Smart Sunglasses

If you’re willing to spend $200 USD on nothing more than 100 grams of plastic, there are a few trendy sunglasses brands that are ready to take your money before you have time to think twice. Sure, you can get a pair of sunglasses for an order of magnitude less money that do the exact same job, but the real value is in the brand stamped into the plastic and not necessarily the sunglasses themselves. Not so with this pair of Ray-Bans, though. Unlike most of their offerings, these contain a little bit more than a few bits of stylish plastic and [Becky Stern] is here to show us what’s hidden inside.

At first glance, the glasses don’t seem to be anything other than a normal pair of sunglasses, if a bit bulky But on closer inspection they hide a pair of cameras and a few other bits of electronics similar to the Google Glass, but much more subtle. The teardown demonstrates that these are not intended to be user-repairable devices, and might not be repairable at all, as even removing the hinges broke the flexible PCBs behind them. A rotary tool was needed to remove the circuit boards from the ear pieces, and a bench vice to remove the camera modules from the front frame. We can presume these glasses will not be put back together after this process.

Hidden away inside is a pair of cameras, a Snapdragon quad-core processor, capacitive touch sensors, an amplifier for a set of speakers. Mostly this is to support the recording of video and playback of audio, and not any sort of augmented reality system like Google Glass attempted to create. There are some concerning ties with Facebook associated with this product as well which will be a red flag for plenty of us around here, but besides the privacy issues, lack of repairability, and lack of features, we’d describe it as marginally less useful as an entry-level smartwatch. Of course, Google Glass had its own set of privacy-related issues too, which we saw some clever projects solve in unique ways.

14 thoughts on “Inside A Pair Of Smart Sunglasses

  1. At £150, they’re certainly not cheap, but I’ve never found any other lens that even comes close to correcting my red/green colour deficiency as the “bronze HCL” lenses do from Maui Jim. They weigh 10g, don’t need batteries, perform a valuable service, and no one notices when I wear them. Not sure why non-colour deficient people would pay that much, though ;-)

    1. Speaking of which…does anyone know of a place that makes lenses for 3d printed glasses and has the stl file for the frames? There was a site out there that used to operate on this premise…something like glassesUSA…and they suddenly quit providing the files and the means by which you could get the lenses. I figured I’d just keep printing frames as I broke them.

  2. I am somewhat hearing impaired. This requires that I wear smart glasses with prescription lenses as my daily drivers. I have three pair, 1- for daily use with prescription photosensitive lenses. 2- Polaroids for all day outside, beach, fishing, etc. 3- a spare pair in case anything breaks. My frames will fit any set of spatulas and are easily interchangeable. Sound core has made these changes easy and practical. My phone calls are very clear on both ends. Musics and podcasts are excellent. Controls are voice or touch and for the most part work reliably. All together I have become very dependent on smart glasses. IMO they have a good future with more improvements to come.

    1. Having owned anker’s and bose’s attempts at glasses with Bluetooth audio on balance I agree that anker’s are better. Pros for bose are sound quality, lower noise leakage and a button works much better than capacitive touch for me. Pros for anker are a lower price and easier replacement parts because the arms come off the front at the hinge by design. My bose pair died due to a snapped ribbon cable and they proved very difficult for an amateur to repair.

      I don’t think I’ll buy more smart glasses for a few generations. Hopefully by then we’ll have Google glass functionality again with a little HUD and a camera with privacy slider.

  3. Hahaha.. I love the way she just mangles them to get the parts out.
    Careful now, Becky! Don’t puncture that LiPo!
    The state of some of those chips when she’s finished! XD

    She uses the same company that Adam Savage uses on his “Tested” channel to get sliced MRI images of the internals before completely totalling the glasses which is interesting.

    It just shows the lengths that designers will go to and the amazing innovation from engineers that make things like this possible to fit into comfortable-to-wear products.
    It’s just a shame the things are almost impossible to repair and will be an absolute e-waste nightmare, pretty much impossible to recycle too!

    Keep it up, Becky!
    It’s great to see people like you and BigClive tearing this sort of thing down and showing us how it works.

    1. As Becky competently explained, they are CT images (x-ray Computed Tomography), not MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), which is universally acknowledged to be essentially useless to image metals and plastics.

      1. Yes, I realised my mistake after I’d posted. Why oh why can’t hackaday have an edit button?
        MRI and CT are VERY different technologies.

        Adam Savage used this on his channel, where the same company Lumafield, scanned some molds of ships he had modeled back in the 00’s and they created meshes, and STLs which came out pretty well once printed.

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