When I first got into cycling, I swore I would never wear lycra. I now have a closet full of kits and bibs. Then I swore I would never get one of the fancy watches that track my mileage and pace because that stuff is for the real athletes. Today, I’m equipped with a heart rate monitor, multisport watch and power meter to monitor and analyze every metric.
So I can sit here and say, I’d never need a pair of sunglasses to monitor my metrics and workouts, but quite quickly I’m learning to never say never. The future of technology is right before my eyes—literally—in the form of SOLOS Smart Glasses.
For more information on SOLOS, visit the website.
With any new device, whether it’s a new Apple TV or cycling computer, the necessary initial set-up customizes your user experience and only has to be done once. The Smart Glasses are no exception. In fact, there is a simple instruction list right on the inside cover of the box to help you get going.
First, download the SOLOS app by searching “Solos Wearables” in your App Store or Google Play Store. You can actually do this at any time to set up your athlete profile, pair devices, set your data screen options and designate other features such as auto-pause, data screen rotation and manual/auto start mode. For example, if you’re using the glasses in a race, you may not want auto-pause turned on, but on a Saturday social ride, you can easily make that switch right in the app.
Spend time with the app as it is ultimately your customizable control center to the type of user experience you want to have with the smart glasses. If you want to see your speed but didn’t set that as a parameter, it will make for a frustrating session.
I felt like I was in my own little video game, albeit I wasn’t achieving any high scores those first few times out.
When you receive the glasses, power them up, turn on bluetooth and begin the pairing process with your phone. This will take a few minutes, but once you’ve connected SOLOS, you can then begin your activity. From there, every time you want to use your glasses, make sure Bluetooth is turned on and your phone is connected to the SOLOS device.
The Optics Module Arm and Display
Before you get moving, make sure you can see the screen well. The SOLOS Smart Glasses actually have three adjustment points on the optics module.: You can adjust the tilt of the screen, as well as the horizontal and vertical plane. I positioned mine so the data would display in the top right of my peripheral vision without causing any distraction with the view ahead. In fact, vision was one of my apprehensions and why I did some initial testing from the safety of my indoor trainer. I wanted to make sure I set the optic arm properly so as not to impede my vision. But good news—it doesn’t! In fact, on my first ride outside, there was no distraction at all. I had to actually remind myself to glance upwards to see the data. It was quite unobtrusive and the data screen was transparent enough to see through it while still being bright and full-color. I felt like I was in my own little video game, albeit I wasn’t achieving any high scores those first few times out.
I received many questions about the weight of the glasses on my group rides. Sure, they carry a little more bulk than typical sunglasses, but at just 65 grams, they can still be considered light. I wore them on the bike with a normal road helmet and on runs with a trucker hat and experienced no interference with the headwear. My biggest consideration? The slightly larger lenses on my rather petite face. Still, even though the lenses were large, they weren’t uncomfortable and a small adjustment to the nosepiece made them fit snugly. Plus, they also have an option for prescription inserts!
On both my test rides and runs, there was a small amount of bounce, but I didn’t experience any slippage of the glasses or drop of the optic arm. Both firmly held their place throughout training sessions.
Practical Use and Benefits
Once the SOLOS are connected to the app, you can select your sport (running or cycling), and simply press “start” on the phone app. It’s really that simple. In a matter of moments, your designated data appears on the optics screen in your glasses and you’re given the opportunity to make final adjustments to the display. On the bike, my basic metrics for a test ride were pace, distance and time, but I also paired my power meter and heart rate monitor. That may sound like a lot of data for one small screen, but the glasses come with a feature that allows the display to rotate every 10 seconds to show everything I wanted without cramming it all into one place.
The benefit of SOLOS Smart Glasses is having the real-time information at-a-glance so you don’t have to look down or break focus while riding and racing.
Upon finishing your session, another simple click of the “pause” button and you’re wrapped up for the workout. It will then automatically upload your data and save the session on a plethora of platforms, including Training Peaks, Strava and MapMyFitness. From there you can analyze your metrics like you would with any other device.
So what makes these glasses so much better than a regular old watch? This was another question I received on group rides. Sure, bike computers and smart watches pair with other devices and display metrics on your wrist, but the benefit of SOLOS Smart Glasses is having the real-time information at-a-glance so you don’t have to look down or break focus while riding and racing.
I think specifically of a crit racer or competitive bike rider who can’t afford to glance away even for a moment during a race. Having power or pace in their line of sight could be the difference between missing a breakaway or making dangerous contact with a wheel. I think, too, about the triathlete who emphasizes aerodynamics and speed. For those in contention to win, a distracted glance down can take you out of the moment and can make or break a victory. It can also be a dangerous liability to surrounding athletes.
What about the mountain biker or the trail runner who must keep their eyes firmly planted where they want to go? I know I’ve clumsily tripped and face-planted during distracted moments messing with my watch. On mountain bike rides, I’ve even opted to not even glance down for fear of missing a turn or obstacle. But if my metrics are displayed in my peripheral vision, I am better equipped to race and pace accordingly.
Clearly, the SOLOS Smart Glasses have practical benefits for athletes at all levels because they address both performance and safety concerns. You stay focused and in-the-moment while still seeing the data you would otherwise have to look down to see.
But Wait, There’s More
One of the most unique features is the in-frame speakers and microphone. Yes, this means you can listen to your favorite podcast or music on a run or ride without the obtrusive distraction of earbuds. Again, with safety as a major concern, the in-frame speakers eradicate the need to bring headsets and extra equipment.
Not only do you have the capability of having the visual map in your view, but you can have audible turn-by-turn instructions as well.
Even if music isn’t your thing on a run or ride (for legitimate safety and social etiquette), the speakers come in handy because they also offer audible and visual turn-by-turn cues if you’ve downloaded a route. To me, this is one of the biggest selling points of the glasses. Not only do you have the capability of having the visual map in your view, but you can have audible turn-by-turn instructions as well. No more getting lost or stopping every few minutes to look at your computer to see if you missed a turn. It’s right there in plain sight.
Download new courses or even load previous courses to “ghost race” against yourself to work toward a course PR. This is perfect for time trial enthusiasts or those who are seeking to improve on repetitive courses or hill climbs. Not only does this allow you to see your progression over time, you can create a competitive atmosphere all by yourself.
Finally, the built-in speaker is also equipped with a microphone to facilitate group communication with other SOLOS, provide real-time coaching prompts and voice controlled data access.
Summary—A Glimpse of the Future
There’s little doubt that future technology is based around a customized user experience with minimum distraction and reaction time. SOLOS delivers on this with its heads-up interface and immersive interaction with voice, visuals and data. You become one with the data and in doing so are able to make quick adjustments that are both safe and measurable. While the glasses lack a real multisport feature and carrying along your phone during a triathlon is impractical, there’s little else this device can’t do!