Kopin Announces Smartglasses for the Cycling Athlette

Kopin has announced a new smartglass device under the Solo brand name. The device is aimed at the sports market and is designed especially for bicyclists.

Solo is designed by Kopin to compete with the likes of the Jet by Recon Instruments. It seems that the Solo is aiming more at the competitive athlete rather than the average city bike rider. The system is based on a smartphone app that connects the rider with his trainer or teammates to improve the overall performance.

kopin solo 2Source: Kopin Solo

The device looks very much like stylish sunglasses rather than a headset. While Kopin has not released the technical specifications and details yet, they do mention that the connection to the smartphone is done via Bluetooth, which seems to eliminate any video stream capability on the device. They also mention the possibility of creating your own pages with just the information you want.

kopin soloSource: Kopin Solo

Of course audio and a battery are included. The earphones are embedded in the arms of the device, as is the battery. The limited standalone performance of the device, with processing in the smartphone, leads to good battery life, which seems to be around 6h of run time (although cycling is an endurance sport and many events go on longer than this – Man. Ed.)

There is very little said about the optical design. From the provided images, the optical combiner is based on a prism design rather than an optical waveguide. Kopin does, however, state that the height of the optical combiner is around 4mm or about the same as the size of the viewer’s pupil. They do no state anything about the resolution, contrast ratio or maximum brightness of the device.

Since the design comes from Kopin, we can certainly assume that they are using their own display, which would hint at their WQVGA LVS display as the used imager. This imager is also used in their White Pearl display unit that combines the imager with optical components.

Analyst Comment

Overall the device accomplishes one of the best combinations of form and function in the smartglass space, in my opinion. The system maybe overkill for the weekend cyclists, but it surely could be a hit with cycling enthusiasts who wants to have the best equipment around.

Without more technical details, it is difficult to judge the ultimate performance, but the design demonstrates that Kopin has spent quality time in understanding the requirements for this smartglass application.

After having its devices used in a Fujitsu headset (and one more “tier 1” customer to be announced later this year), Kopin has identified the smartglass space as potential use of their displays. After selling its III-V semiconductor business, Kopin has still some cash to play with, but even that will last only that long. So far, no player seems to have been able to create a profitable business in the smartglass space by creating a sizeable market for headsets. Addressing a distinct application space maybe the best way to create a sustainable business. – NH