Heads Up! Smart Glasses Take Aim at Sports

Google Glass may perk up your inner nerd, but the idea of wearable computing is getting a sports application. The Recon Jet is a pair of sunglasses with an integrated 1-GHz processor and a transparent micro heads-up display that monitors the user’s vital signs, among other things.

Recon Jet sunglasses integrate 1-GHz processor and transparent micro heads-up display for user’s vital signs, among other things.

Recon Jet sunglasses integrate 1-GHz processor and transparent micro heads-up display for user’s vital signs, among other things.

Manufactured by Vancouver, BC-based Recon Instruments, the display is controlled by a precision optical touchpad that supports multiple gesture controls and facilitates use in all weather conditions, even with gloves on. The company is positioning the product to do for summer sports what its Mod Live snowboarding and ski goggles, with similar functionality, did for winter sports when it was released in 2010.

The Recon Jet comes with a dual-core processor, dedicated graphics, WiFi, ANT+, Bluetooth, GPS, HD camera, and a comprehensive suite of sensors. The wireless formats allow it to connect to a tablet or smartphone.

According to Recon Instruments CMO Tom Fowler, the company is positioning the Recon Jet for several professional sports, including cycling.

“In competition like the Tour de France that’s in progress now, Recon Jet would be able to give the user constant, real-time information that they need to manage their power output,” explains Fowler, himself a former professional triathlete. “From training, they may know that their optimum output is 400 W, but it’s impossible to keep it at that number consistently just by feel. The data in the HUD gives it to them in real time. That offers them a huge advantage.”

He says the Recon Jet’s functionality does not run afoul of the regulations of the UCI, the Tour’s governing body. He says he can’t speak on how it might be viewed by other sports leagues but speculates that, for particularly data-driven sports, such as baseball, access to stored and real-time data during a game could be, well, a game-changer. In any event, it suggests that major-league sports may have some new high-tech concerns to think about once it resolves pervasive doping scandals.

17-time Tour de France finisher George Hincapie is promoting the Recon Jet.

17-time Tour de France finisher George Hincapie is promoting the Recon Jet.

In training applications, the high-tech sunglasses fit all sports. The Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity allows users to access their mobile devices as they work out, for communications purposes, and to store data delivered by the glasses’ processor. Any signal output from the glasses could also be easily integrated into the video and audio portions of a broadcast, too, via a mobile device.

Members of the U.S. National Ski Team used the Mod Live goggles for training before the 2010 Winter Olympics; 17-time Tour de France finisher George Hincapie is making promotional videos for the Recon Jet.

Recon Instruments introduced the Jet to app developers at the Google I/O tech conference in June and is actively encouraging health, fitness, and sports apps for the platform. The Recon Jet is scheduled to arrive at retail in December, priced at $499.