The wearable computing space has changed a lot in the decade since Google Glass first debuted. While Google’s computer for your face never really took off, these days smartwatches are everywhere and the idea of sticking a device in front of your eyeballs is more mainstream than ever, thanks to the efforts of Meta, Apple, and others.
But somehow Google Glass still feels like the most obvious point of comparison for the the new Brilliant Labs Frame, a pair of glasses that put a small display in front of one eye, capable of displaying text and graphics overlayed on your real-world environment. But with a $349 price during pre-orders, Brilliant Labs Frame is a lot cheaper than Google Glass. And with a focus on AI capabilities, Frame feels a lot more 2024 than 2012, for better or worse.
In terms of hardware, the Brilliant Labs Frame look like a pair of round spectacles with a little extra hardware tacked on. There’s a camera in the center, a tiny 640 x 400 pixel micro OLED display in the right lens, and batteries in the back. There’s also a bit of wiring and circuitry running through the frames, and optional support for prescription lenses (which add another $99 to the price).
The micro OLED display isn’t intended to fill your entire field of view or offer a virtual reality experience. Instead, it offers a 20 degree field of view and is meant to display text, animations, or other basic graphics.
The glasses themselves weigh just 40 grams (1.4 ounces), because they don’t have big batteries or other components to add weight. They don’t need to, because instead, they’re designed to connect wirelessly to a smartphone running the Brilliant Labs Noa chatbot/AI app for iOS or Android. Future versions of the smart glasses could pack more into the Frame itself and eliminate the need for a phone though… sort of like what you’d get if you combined Google Glass with the Humane Ai Pin.
So what can you actually do with them? Noa taps into AI models including GPT-4, Stability AI, and Whisper AI to do things like process images captured by the camera and generate text and images in response to queries.
These aren’t augmented reality glasses so much as a chatbot in your face that can respond not only to things you ask by voice or text, but also the things you see. You can, for example, ask it to summarize the contents of a document or page of a book that you’re looking at, see how much the pair of shoes or piece of clothing you’re looking at in a store would cost if you bought it online.
Of course, the glasses and your phone don’t really have enough processing power to do those sorts of things on-device. So, like most AI-focused hardware announced over the past year or two, the Brilliant Labs Frame requires an internet connection… and may eventually require a subscription.
According to a FAQ on Brilliant’s website, the company will offer its first batch of customers a “subscription for AI services that are free subject to a daily cap,” but “a paid tier will be announced soon.”
So the $349 to $448 you pay for the glasses might not actually cover the costs of using them. That’s hardly a new concept – we’re used to paying for mobile data in order to use our smartphones on the go, after all. But this would be another subscription on top of that.
Update: Brilliant says that while the hardware may be designed for use with the Noa app, you can also use third-party software with it. So you may not have to pay a subscription to get any use out of the glasses.
The Brilliant Labs Frame’s main processor is a Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 ARM Cortex-M4-F processor, but there’s also a Lattice CrosslinkNX computer vision FPGA for the camera and graphics interfaces.
One thing that sets the Brilliant Labs Frame apart from many of the other AI wearables we’ve seen? Brilliant open sources its projects: you can find source code for its hardware and software at the company’s GitHub repository.
Frame is up for pre-order now, and the first batch is expected to begin shipping April 15, 2024.
Frame isn’t Brilliant’s first product – the company launched a slightly geekier, more DIY-focused device called the Brilliant Monocle last year. That single smart glass lens is designed to clip to your existing glasses. It’s still available for purchase for $299 and has specs that are quite similar to the Frame, including a 640 x 400 pixel micro OLED display with a 20 degree field of view and a 720p camera.