Intel’s Chris Croteau and Oakley’s Luiz Dias met with me this week to show off the Radar Pace smart glasses that will hit stores this Saturday, but they were careful to downplay expectations for this new consumer wearable technology.
The smart glasses, designed jointly by Intel and the Luxottica Group (Oakley is a subsidiary), are “really just for runners and cyclers,” they kept pointing out. “We spent a long time trying to understand what kind of wearables athletes want, and designed this for them,” they emphasized. And, they told me several times, “we’re not trying to be Google Glass.”
“We’re concerned about avoiding social awkwardness,” chimed in Scott Smith, a vice president at Luxottica, Oakley’s parent company.
Still, Radar Pace’s little voice in your ear—one that knows exactly what you’re doing and encourages you to do it a little better—has a bit of the flavor of the virtual companion in the movie Her. It’s going to be very tempting to go beyond the questions it expects (Am I on my target pace? How’s my stride length?), to getting a little chattier (I think I know that guy who just ran past. Should I say hello?). In fact, Radar Pace strays into the territory of audio augmented reality, an area with huge potential that’s getting little attention as we obsess about visual AR like Pokémon Go.
And Croteau, in spite of trying to focus on sports training, wouldn’t argue with that perception. “It is indeed AR,” he says. “We are augmenting the reality of an athlete through audio.”