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Sony to Debut Smart Glass Clip-on

TOKYO—Sony is making glasses smart. The technology giant announced the development of “an attachable single-lens display module that can turn eyewear of varying designs into smart devices.” Sony said it will show a concept version at CES and expects to start mass production of the device within the coming year.

The module sports an organic light-emitting diode microdisplay for high-res colors, a micro-optical unit for image quality and a “miniaturized control board with arithmetic processing capabilities on par with smartphones that was made possible by high-density packaging technology.”

Sony said the 0.23-inch diagonal OLED microdisplay “is among the smallest in the world,” and has a resolution of 640x400 pixels. It also puts contrast ratio “higher than 10,000:1 and covering 100 percent of the [standard red-green-blue] color space.”

The microdisplay does not require the same size light shield in the pixel structure as a conventional micropanel because “Sony was able to optimize the matrix arrangement—therefore allowing for a smaller light shield—and miniaturize pixel size while improving the aperture ratio.”

This allows Sony “to preserve the brightness necessary for use in outdoor conditions while achieving considerable miniaturization in panel size (10.2 mm x 7.9 mm),” the technology maker said. “The projected image’s diagonal angle of view converts to 13 degrees, which is equivalent to the field of view for a 16-inch display two meters in the distance.”

This configuration is “optimal” for a subwindow, Sony said, and won’t be disruptive to the real-world activities around the wearer. The processor is comparable to one in a smartphone, Sony said. The Wi-Fi-enabled module weighs in at 40 g total.

Sony notes that in addition to general consumer use, the technology has sports and other professional applications, and that making it detachable is a plus in that the wearer doesn’t have to change eyewear should spyglass be inappropriate for the occasion.

Sony will court companies that make eyewear for sports and entertainment, as well as consumer electronics makers interested in coupling their gear with wearable smart technology, and provide them with the software development kit. Sony expects developers to come up with dedicated apps either loaded onto the module or into a smartphone to be used in tandem with the device.

“Sony therefore aims to promote development of novel uses for glasses-style smart devices that capitalize on the power of the module's arithmetic unit and Wi-Fi functionality, such as with applications that access data in the cloud or that link with infrastructure systems,” the manufacturer said. “Along with the SDK, Sony will also release the display module’s communication specifications, enabling developers to wirelessly pair it with a wide range of other devices aside from smartphones.”

Sony lists key specs as follows:
Display 0.23-inch high-res color OLED
640 (H) x 400 (V) pixel
Display color24-bit RGB/100% sRGB color space
Maximum brightness800 cd/m2
Contrast ratio10,000:1 or more
Display response speed0.01 msec or below
SensorsElectronic compass, accelerometer, touch sensor
ProcessorARM Cortex-A7 Processor
Wireless moduleBluetooth 3.0 + High Speed, IEEE802.11b/g/n
Battery capacity 400 mAh

WeightAbout 40 g (Display arm: 22 g; Secondary arm: 18 g)

A concept device showing it attached to sports eyewear will be on display at CES in Las Vegas, Jan. 6-9.