A year ago, Oakley launched Airwave, a high tech ski goggle outfitted with heads-up display developed by Recon Instruments that integrates GPS, Bluetooth, smartphone connectivity and other features with a host of onboard sensors controlled by a wrist mounted device.
Now that competitors such as Zeal Optics and Smith Optics have also fielded Recon-equipped ski goggles, Oakley has upped its game with Airwave 1.5. The new goggles boast a number of new features, including:
- Heads-Up Display: Airwave 1.5 delivers crisp, widescreen graphics using innovative prism technology. Integrated within the goggle is a device called MOD LIVE which acts like a car speedometer: no need to focus your eye when moving, clearly visible, but not distracting.
- Integrated GPS: Accurately measures speed down the mountain, jump analytics (height and airtime) and vertical distance traveled. Also, finds pinpoint locations on resort maps for locating specific runs.
- Buddy Tracking: Locate and track friends on the mountain who have an Airwave goggle or App on their smartphone.
- Connectivity: View incoming calls, text messages, music playlists and connect with social media channels via your phone. Mi-Fi and low-energy Bluetooth connectivity allows interface with POV cameras, heart-rate monitors, etc.
- Performance Lenses and Functional Fit: Up to six interchangeable, anti-fog lenses using Oakley's Switchlock technology to meet all on-mountain conditions. Goggle frame features O-Matter chassis and O-Flow Arch technology to reduce nasal pressure for a balanced fit and all-day comfort.
- Battery life up to six hours.
"Airwave has been a big success," Oakley's category manager for watches and 3D optics, Chris Petrillo, told Eye2 editor Andrew Karp (pictured above wearing Airwave 1.5.) "We learned that the consumer acceptance of wearable electronics technology is definitely there. They grasped quickly that Airwave is really technology to enhance your time on the mountain, not technology interfering with your sport or enjoyment. It's technology being used in a proper way. That was a big lesson for us.
"Oakley is very committed to the wearable technology space," Petrillo continued. "We've been involved with wearable technology for a long time, ever since we introduced Thump and ORokr. Oakley makes products from head to toe for consumers, so there's all kinds of opportunities. Biometric feedback, the connected consumer, connecting through our phones, bringing information directly through our eye, that's the next step."
Petrillo believes Airwave and future Oakley wearable electronic products represent an opportunity for optical professionals to develop a new area of expertise. "That's one of the areas we feel very strongly about," he said. "When this technology starts trickling down from sport optics to everyday eyewear, it will be the optical professional that will be matching up prescription optics with the right technology. One of our big concerns is that a quality optics experience is best handled by optical professionals, not by consumer electronics retailers."
Petrillo said Oakley is already looking beyond Airwave to see how it can pair electronics with other types of products. "We see opportunities for us that go beyond eyewear. There is plenty of opportunity for us when you talk about wearables as a whole."
Airwave 1.5 has an MSRP of $649. It is available in Oakley O-Stores, Oakley.com, Apple.com and Apple Stores in North America, Europe and Japan; ReconInstruments.com; and select retail locations including a range of resort destinations.