Gazing at the smart gadgets in your home—watches, phones, speakers, gardens, etc.—can’t help but make you speculate about the next breakthrough technology. A useful wearable that can easily infiltrate a workaday. Something you can grow attached to, and, of course, is a complete style flex. And while gossips in the tech world are mostly all unrealistic what-if-sayers, Apple is rumored to be developing smart glasses that could potentially succeed iPhones. From where we’re sitting, that seems to be what smart tech high society is veering towards.
Developers like Bose and Razer are in the early stages of smart glasses design, often of the sunglasses-plus-headphones breed, which embed speakers into the arms of shades to form open-ear audio systems, which in turn allow listeners to stay aware of their surroundings while enjoying music. Other smart specs are already furnished with cameras for a thorough content experience, like in the cases of Ray-Ban and Snapchat. But the ultimate evolution seems to be augmented reality devices that overlay the physical world with virtual data that gets projected into the corners of your eyes.
So if you want a glimpse of the future, we have a rundown of smart glasses that are wearable sans screaming, “Hey, look at me, look at me, I’m a technology!” You know, like bulky VR headsets do. These 10 smart ocular frames include the prevailing speakers-meets-sunglasses duo that’ll flatter any audiophile who wishes to look esoterically cool in time for Matrix: Resurrections, as well as more advanced glasses that weave trompe l’oeil fabrics of reality right over your eyeballs. Those’ll let you get in some casual Keanu-Reeves-as-Neo cosplay, too. Really, choosing the right look for you will take most of the effort here.
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Best Overall Smart Glasses
Stories Smart Glasses
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Ray-Ban won the 2021 title for best fashion-meets-gadget when it coded both audio and camera into its trademark Wayfarer sunglasses, as well as its Round and Meteor frames. Not only can you enjoy music and take phone calls from these open-ear speakers while emulating the timeless panache of celebrities like Jack Nicholson, you can also take HD pictures and videos via the single-touch pad or voice control, then share your images directly to social media from the trapezoidal frames. They’re powered by Facebook, if that’s something you’re into.
Best Audio Smart Sunglasses
Frames Alto Smart Sunglasses
Bose knows how to manufacture an exceptional speaker. But can it make killer eyewear? Yes, as it turns out—and smart eyewear, too. You’re not wrong to assume these smart specs probably boast the best audio in the market. And it’s not just the audio, but the position as well: The speakers are tucked just behind the ears for an immersive listening experience that doesn’t leak. For the shopper who’s fussy about their fit, Bose also provides styles beyond the original cat-eyed Alto, like the athletic Tempo, the square Tenor, and the retro Soprano.
Most Stylish Smart Glasses
No type of shades makes a more badass, edgier statement than the aviator, popularized onto a menswear style throne by Tom Cruise in Top Gun. So when a pair of aviator shades touts open-ear, surround-sound audio with four speakers, dual mics for phone call clarity, voice commands, and automatic privacy mode, who are you to refuse? To take it further, these specs feature a detachable front frame so you can swap and experiment with varying styles.
Echo Frames (2nd Gen)
The Echo Frames are a lightweight pair of shades equipped with the splendor of Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa. These frames look a little too no-frills, stylistically speaking, but their access to Alexa’s vast smart home library undoubtedly makes them the smartest opticals here for Amazon-using folks: making calls, tuning into podcasts and audible books, setting reminders, getting notifications, managing to-do lists, and controlling your smart home hands-free, in “total” privacy. They’ll automatically adjust volume based on your ambient sound surroundings in real-time, too, to top the smartness off.
Best Camera Smart Glasses
Spectacles are smart camera sunglasses designed for Snapchat—if anyone still uses it. They feature a camera lens to capture exactly what your eyes see, in photos and short video clips, and they can be synced with a smartphone to export content to social media accounts (beyond Snapchat, thankfully). Moreover, their water resistance even allows any seafaring traveler or pool-party goer to eternalize content in shallow water. As if the runway-worthy frames weren’t captivating enough.
Best Budget Smart Glasses
Smart Wireless Bluetooth Sunglasses
Merging open-ear smart audio, integrated AI voice control, phone calls, navigation, waterproofing, and polarized lens in one pair of frames under a price tag of $100 is quite a feat, and many might well query the quality of Gelete’s affordable smart glasses. But they have all the key features while looking à la mode enough to be worn out of doors. And given their cost and functions, it’s a good deal if you’re just warming up to smart eyewear and need a sensible pair to get the feel.
Best AR Smart Glasses
Blade Upgraded Smart Glasses
Augmented reality is just a derivative of prescription lenses, as both help your limited eyesight decipher the threads of the physical world around us. So one might think AR glasses are superfluous, but Vuzix’s AR spectacles with an autofocus 8-megapixel camera, noise-canceling mics, speakers, and voice control dispel that notion. The see-through right lens can overlay full-color HD graphics onto the analog world, and its head-tracking adapts to your movement for a mesmerizing AR experience (very much like Iron Man’s helmet). These features allow you to access digital information and remote support hands-free while your hands are actually busy tackling tasks in the real world.
Best Luxury Smart Glasses
ThinkReality A3 Smart Glasses
We’ll try our best to convince you that you need Lenovo smart glasses that cost a whopping $1,500. First, you’ll need them for work, because they’re packed with the taxonomy and performance of a laptop, and enable you to create and customize a workspace via augmented reality. For the office worker, you’ll get to enjoy 3D visualization via the virtual monitors on the lenses. For the C-suiter, you’ll get to securely read data during a busy phone call. For the project manager, you’ll get to view immersive workflows anywhere. And that’s all the reason we can give, if the 8-megapixel RGB camera and motion tracking do not speak to you loudly enough.
Best Clear Smart Glasses
Smart Clear Glasses
If wearing shades while using smart tech isn’t your thing—because you just can’t see sh*t—then consider WGP’s smart glasses with clear lenses. Take in the sounds as well as the sights while reading, gaming, working, or driving. To boot, the real standout with these is the debonair look: black, stainless steel bridges with hints of gold at the nose and frames give off such a classic air. These are the smart specs you will find atop your snout all day.
Anzu Smart Glasses
Razer is known for gaming hardware, but its Anzu smart glasses are surprisingly workplace-compatible. They don’t possess too much bling, just the basic starter pack for all quality smart glasses. But with a five-hour battery life and a seamless Bluetooth connection, one can’t help but associate Razer’s Anzu with long WFH or gaming sessions. And this pair is quite stylish: round frames with a chunky bridge. What a looker.
Maverick Li Maverick Li is the Assistant eCommerce Editor at Esquire, where he covers tech, home, and all things related to lifestyle.
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