ActiveLook, AR glasses for cyclists
ActiveLook are the people behind putting AR tech into you sunglasses. We take a brief look at how it works and what’s available.
According to their website ActiveLook is a “heads-up, hands-free, near-eye display technology for eyewear”. The idea is to provide athletes with the information they “need or want, in real time, right in your field of view.” I can’t be the only rider that has looked down at their head-unit for too long and been close to a mishap? Whether that be a missed turn, unseen obstacle or traffic, that look could have serious consequences.
ActiveLook was a project started over five years ago by Grenoble based MicroOLED. The French company are a manufacturer of organic LED display technologies and micro-optics. The team had many outdoor fans amongst the team. They realised that products used in the aviation industry, could be scaled down for personal use. The obvious group of people to aim this tech at was endurance athletes, who already wore glasses as a matter of course. The next issue was shrinking the tech, sorting battery life and sorting a “bridge” between the glasses and apps. After a period of stealth and Beta testing, ActiveLook technology went live in 2021.
The question is, is having information permanently broadcast into you field of vision more distracting? ActiveLook say their technology allows you to “focus on what matters, with no distractions.” So let’s take a look at the how it works.
How does it work?
The ActiveLook module weighs 6 grammes and is all built around the nose-piece. To the left, a pod sticks out, this contains the battery. Run time is a claimed twelve hours, good for long distance events or multi-stage races. The right side contains the low-power AM-OLED display which is projected onto the glasses’ lens. The lenses used are semi-reflective to show the image, the brightness varies depending on light levels.
A sensor on the front of the module detects light levels and varies the output of the projector. This means you’ll always be able to see your information as light levels change. The same sensor also allows the glasses to receive simple commands by simply waving your hand in front of it. That sounds a lot simpler than fiddling for buttons with thick gloves. All the processing is done from the central part of the module, which is sealed against rain, dust and sweat. Charging is via a magnetic cable that attaches above the nose-piece.
Will they improve your ride?
So, do you need a pair of glasses with ActiveLook tech? On the bike keeping your senses focussed on the road/trail is a priority. Anything that takes your concentration away from this should be avoided, so this technology could be a winner. Also for events like a time-trial having your metrics in front of you the whole time, would allow you to keep your head up. For those runners out there, trying to keep an eye on your pace could be a lot easier. I know I have difficulty looking at a watch on my once-a-year run.
Where can you get hold of this technology? A look around the internet shows three brands incorporating the sensors into their glasses. They are the Vision from Cosmo, the engo 1 and engo 2 from engo and the EVAD-1 from Julbo. Prices vary from 229€ to 449€, with top-end non-AR glasses costing around 200-250€. This could expand as ActiveLook has an open API, which will allow other brands to incorporate it into their products.
I think I need to try this technology out before really making a decision about it. It seems like it could make a difference on a ride, safety and performance-wise. Or will it prove to be another distraction? Look out for a future review.