Garmin‘s new Varia Vision device could either be a dream come true for cyclists or a work in progress, but this is definitely an interesting accessory. The Varia Vision is an augmented reality display that you mount to your sunglasses. And it’s not just about displaying how well you’re doing, it can alert you about traffic and directions.
Many cyclists already have tiny computing devices on their handlebars. But it can be dangerous and cumbersome to look down when you’re riding in traffic. You might also miss some key information, such as directions.
With the Varia Vision, your information is directly in your line of sight. You get data, turn-by-turn directions, notifications from your phone and more. If you also put a rearview radar, you’ll also get alerts about cars approaching your from behind.
When it comes to the user interface, it works like the Google Glass. There’s a tiny touchpad on the side so that you can scroll through menus. It has an integrated ambient light sensor and is waterproof. It can even vibrate to alert you. The battery is supposed to last eight hours.
Other companies have made augmented reality devices for athletes, such as Recon Instruments. The company was recently acquired by Intel, so it’s unclear whether they’re still focused on developing new augmented reality devices.
It all comes down to execution. It’s hard to tell whether this device is actually useful and works as expected without trying it in real life. Given that it uses your phone for GPS directions and notifications, most of the computing power happens on your phone.
The Varia Vision isn’t a cheap device. At $400, only cycling addicts will consider buying the device when it comes out in Q1 2016. But I can’t help but think that it could quickly become a must-have for those who spend more time on their bike than in their car, like our own Andrew Sweeney.