Live ride data displayed on your sunglass lens is the pinnacle of wearable tech in the cycling market. Recon’s new Jet smart-glasses are crammed full of technology and sensors: Bluetooth Smart, ANT+ and Wi-Fi connectivity allow you to pair the Jet to smartphones and sensors, such as cadence and heart rate, while an altimeter, accelerometer, thermometer, GPS and built-in gyroscope offer further functionality and huge app potential.
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Recon is running an open platform that will allow third party developers to create a huge range of apps to extend the uses of the Jet. Strava and TrainingPeaks are obvious applications, although neither has released plans.
A 720p HD Camera enables you to take stills and video on the fly. While not envisaged to be a replacement for a GoPro, the camera is intended to capture those random moments when you might normally reach for a smartphone.
I was able to try out a prototype device and play with the menus and OS. To switch between screens there is a touch pad and intuitive rocker switch, all operated by a single hand on the side of the device. I found it easy to use and within minutes had got to grips with it.
A common objection is that having a screen in front of you while riding is dangerous. What was immediately obvious to me is that you do not have to look at it. Much like the speedometer on your car dashboard, it is there when you want it.
Recon argues that the Jet is actually safer than having a computer on your stem and I am inclined to agree. The reason is that if you choose to focus on the data in the corner of the glasses, any potential hazards on the road are still in your peripheral vision. Looking down at a stem gives you a much smaller field of vision, putting you at greater risk.
While not as featherweight as a pair of Oakley Radarlocks, which weigh around 30g, the Recon Jets are a respectable 60g. The glasses are 32g, with the pods on either side each weighing 14g. This means the weight is evenly distributed around the frame. In my limited time testing the prototype I found the weight unobtrusive and the glasses felt comfortable on my face.
Not having an opportunity to perform my own run-down test, I can only report the claimed battery life. Recon states this to be around three to four hours, depending on how you use the product and the external temperature/pressure. Much like a smartphone, if you constantly record video the battery life will be considerably shorter.
You could always take a spare battery if you were embarking on an epic ride. The battery pod can be unclipped and replaced easily enough. Recon says that should this occur the Jet’s system would reboot and carry on where it left off and your data will still be recorded as a single ride.
So how much will a head-up display on your bike cost? The retail price is likely to be £579.99 or $699. While this is expensive, if you consider that a pair of Oakleys are £200 and a Garmin 1000 is £350, the Jet effectively combines both these products. By the way, unlike a
normal pair of glasses, the Jets don’t have a case, they have a ‘hanger’.
This article first appeared in the April 16 edition of Cycling Weekly