In 2016, Vue debuted its first pair of smart glasses on Kickstarter, where it raised over $2 million. But unlike AR glasses such as North’s Focals, the Vue Pro ($299) were regular frames with built-in speakers.
It featured bone conduction technology, the ability to listen to calls and audio, as well as activity tracking. Unfortunately due to various delays, it didn’t actually ship the Vue Pro until 2019, and some customers appeared unhappy with the experience.
Undeterred, the company is back with another iteration of their smart glasses, but without a Kickstarter this time. Called the Vue Lite ($179), these glasses are a lighter, cheaper version of the Vue Pro, but without the more notable features of its predecessor.
One of the reasons Vue made the Lite was to get people more comfortable with smart glasses. “We see that level of comfort and simplicity as the catalyst to get people to really start switching into connected frames,” said Aaron Rowley, Vue’s co-founder.
In a lot of ways, the Vue Lite is akin to Amazon’s Echo Frames (which haven’t officially launched yet) as well as the Bose Frames (albeit without the latter’s AR and gesture elements). But after trying out the Vue Lite for a few days, I have to say that I’m not a fan.
Not only does it have a few usability issues, I’m not sold on the concept in general, and I actually think it could push people away from smart glasses rather than towards them.
Perhaps the best feature of the Vue Lite is that it doesn’t look like a pair of smart glasses at all. The model I tried had a standard rectangular black frame made out of cellulose acetate, with no obvious indicator that there was anything unusual about it.
According to Vue, the glasses weigh around 23 grams without the lenses, with front frame choices of cellulose acetate, metal or titanium. Vue also offers prescription lenses in addition to clear, blue light filtering, tinted, polarized and photochromic options. Though the design of the glasses didn’t quite fit my face shape, I do really like the style of it in general.