a girl wearing AR sunglasses

Remember how confident Google was that everyone was going to want to wear its smart glasses? The tech giant’s vision of wearable augmented reality devices hasn’t quite come to fruition. At least, not yet. There are a lot of factors that went into the failure of Google Glass, not the least of which is the fact that they just didn’t seem to do anything our less expensive smart phones can’t already achieve. But more than that, they were ugly.

people tapping sunglasses

Put on a pair of Google Glasses, and you’re broadcasting to the world that you have a camera aimed at everyone, and you may or may not be recording them at any given moment. The ultimate effect was more “creepy dweeb” than “aspirational innovator.” But augmented reality glasses are probably in our future whether we’re concerned about privacy or not, and other manufacturers are learning from Google’s mistakes.

people wearing AR sunglasses

Take “Norm Glasses,” for example. Created by the startup Human Capable, Inc., these smart glasses offer a host of functions, and they’re far less conspicuous. Designed like a fairly normal pair of mirrored sunglasses, “Norm” is equipped with a wearable mini-computer, camera, speakers and a “heads-up display” (HUD) that can display information like text messages, the time, the weather or navigational directions in your field of view.

person riding a bike

Taking photos or videos with Norm Glasses is a lot less conspicuous than whipping out your phone, which some people might find convenient and others concerning. You can also use them to surreptitiously scan barcodes to find online reviews of products or make price comparisons, if you’re the kind of person who likes to go into a brick-and-mortar store to check things out in person and then find them cheaper on Amazon.

The features don’t stop there.

“All components are embedded discreetly inside the frame, people around you won’t be able to tell any technology is present. Norm Glasses can be hung on your shirt or blouse when not in use, just like normal sunglasses. The sleek design also folds up into a standard eyeglass case.”

“With an Android-based system, Norm’s functionalities can be extended with apps in the same way as on smartphones. In addition, Norm supports integration with voice platforms such as Alexa — their functionalities are available to you anywhere you go.”

The lenses come in tinted, transition, polarized or clear varieties, with or without a prescription. One would imagine that the clear prescription lenses would be the most useful, so people don’t wonder why you’re always wearing sunglasses indoors.

When the creators set out to crowdfund production costs for Norm on Kickstarter, they smashed their goals, with nearly 2,000 backers pledging over $590,000 to bring the project to life. The Norm Glasses are now available for pre-order on IndieGoGo with shipping expected to start in April 2020. The retail price will be $449.

sunglasses on white background

If you’d rather wait for a new and improved iteration of Google Glass and you’re willing to pay a premium, you’re in luck. Google seems to have learned from its mistakes, too, and its new frames are a lot more — well — normal-looking.