It’s the middle of winter here in the UK so the perfect time to check out some .. err… sunglasses. These, though, are a bit special, because they also play sound into your head via bone conduction technology.
What? Well, imagine a cool-looking pair of headphones first of all. They have polarized lenses and are very lightweight, with a bold, strong and stylish design. Oh, and if you need prescription glasses, the guys from Voxos can provide these too. Upon wearing them, there’s a comfortable and fairly natural dimming from the sunlight.
The first word that hits here is “premium”, and that’s mainly due to the price. I’m getting £225 or thereabouts from Google searches – these are not cheap.
But wait, they do have that bone conduction tech. This is great if you’re cycling, walking or doing pretty much anything else outside. You get to hear your favourite tunes whilst still hearing the surroundings. This is all going to sound a bit weird but here’s how it works. On each arm of the glasses there’s a round pad which presses against your head. These vibrate, like the centre of a speaker, pushing soundwaves into your cheekbones and through to your ears. The result is slightly strange and not like the in-ear headphones or over-the-ear headphones, and on full volume the vibration does take a small amount of getting used to. Not only that, but there’s also a bit of audio “leakage” as the glasses also feature holes to allow sound to be fired towards your ears.
What I will say though, is that this is the best implementation I’ve experienced of this technology. There’s a definite immersive feel to the audio and – in a way – it sounds more natural because you’re hearing it mixed with the normal day-to-day sounds of daily life. I did find that most of the “volume” I heard was from those downward-firing vents though, rather than the bone conduction. Lifting the glasses away from my face – removing the bone-conduction element – gave me a fairly similar audio experience.
The glasses come with some extra goodies, including a clever control mechanism on the left arm (left as you’re wearing them) which – at a tap – plays and pauses music. They call this the “touch zone”. You tap it to play or pause, slide back for the next tune, slide forwards for the previous one. In addition, to answer calls you slide backwards or you can reject by sliding forwards. Press and hold for 3 seconds and you can activate voice control, allowing you to talk to your phone. That’s all done via an integrated microphone.
Charging this is something you’ll need to keep an eye on – it is suggested in the documentation to use 500mA charge, so maybe don’t use any high-powered chargers. There’s no charger in the box, so just keep it in the back of your mind. It’ll play a tone when the battery is low and you’ll get a red indicator. It takes around 2 hours to charge the glasses from empty and you get around 10 hours depending on the volume you’re playing tunes at.
On the other arm is a button for turning the phone on and off button, which will also pair and control your volume. It’ll beep when you hit the maximum volume and pairing is pretty simple – the usual “press and hold” will do the magic. If you don’t pair, they’ll shut off after 15 minutes.
The Voxos smartglasses are high quality and come with a 12 month warranty. They also put up with the weather, so a bit of rain won’t be a problem – just don’t duck them in a swimming pool.
These aren’t like other, perhaps cheaper sunglasses. The polarized lenses give anti UV400 protection to ensure not only are you protected from your surroundings but so are your eyes.
Overall, these are very decent sunglasses coupled with extremely cool bone-conducting audio plus vented audio “outlets” that act as little mini-speakers above your ears. The whole package means that you can cycle, run or walk whilst listening to your music and still be able to hear your surroundings. Sure, there’s a bit of “audio leakage” and others will be able to hear a small amount of the music. Sure, they’re also very expensive too. The £225 price tag was a bit too much for me, and you have to remember that the arms on these glasses do – due to their thickness – reveal that they’re not just “normal” glasses.
The audio quality and the innovative touch panel on these glasses is top-notch, as is the design of them and the build quality. Very impressed on that score. Get more information on their website if you’re looking to buy.