Kopin is not a name you’re familiar with, but you might be in the next year or two. They’re building a wearable called Solos, which is an update to the concept of HUD (heads-up display) sunglasses that just might change your mind about wanting to own a pair.
The Solos is designed to display all the data you’d normally get from your cycling computer – heart rate, speed, cadence, power, etc. – right in your field of vision. For triathletes, this is invaluable. No more looking down and sticking your long-tail aero lid up like a giant airbrake just to see your current speed or heart rate zone. Instead, the Solos places a small, adjustable screen next to your right eye that can be moved to virtually wherever you want it in your line of sight.
That last part is more out of necessity than anything else. When we tried the Solos on at Interbike the first time, one of our editors was able to see the data straight away. Although another had difficulty being able to reliably see the screen clearly until he changed out the nose bridge for a wider version. The Solos is not strictly “one-size-fits-all,” but it is getting there. The updated version currently in testing accommodates both such nose positions and sports a two-point articulable – and lockable – armature for the screen. This allows it to be positioned where you can view the data in your natural line of site, be that low or high, inboard or out.
In case you don’t want to just view your data, the Solos will also include speakers just above your ears. The speakers will be capable of announcing your relevant information at the touch of a button, a tap in their app, at regular intervals, or even at a spoken command.
“It learns your voice,” says founder Dr. Ernesto Martinez Villalpando. “You don’t have to shout, either. We have two microphones in [the Solos], so you can speak at a normal volume and it will understand just fine.”
Apparently, you can also take calls through it, while riding, and it will filter out wind noise to the point that both sides of the conversation can speak, and understand, as well as if you were standing still.
All of this takes its toll on battery life, which is surprisingly good. Kopin has been shooting for a “minimum battery life of six hours, and potentially up to 12. The goal was two or three rides between a charge.” Considering all the features on offer, that’s not half bad. Six hours is roughly 120 miles of riding at an easy cruise, a solid Saturday solo sufferfest and the Sunday group cruise fits neatly into that pocket without needing to charge between them.
Unfortunately, all this cool technology suffers a problem; it isn’t race legal. Because it requires your cell phone to feed it data, the Solos cannot be worn in competition, neither UCI nor USAT will allow it… for now. When we pressed Kopin about this, they noted that this was a current design limitation, and that they were looking for ways around this. However, for the 1.0 product, this was not likely to change.
So the Solos is an excellent training tool, just not a race-day item. It’s a great Saturday morning ride gadget, with a number of features that can make your training rides more enjoyable and more efficient. As a first generation product, it shows how much promise the wearable “movement” will impact how triathletes consume data. We are excited to see the final product, and can’t wait for the future that the Kopin Solos promises us.