Your humble sunglasses are about to get yet another upgrade.
Visa unveiled a prototype for payment-enabled sunglasses this week, which look almost exactly like regular sunglasses, but are enabled with a small NFC chip that lets you pay by tapping the glasses on a contactless terminal. (These are the same chips in smartphones used by Apple Pay and its competitors as well as in contactless cards in Europe and elsewhere.)
The glasses, which are meant to work as a preloaded payment card, are still in the prototype stage and the company has not said when they will be released or how much they will cost.
The new glasses were simultaneously debuted at the South By Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, and a surf competition in Australia—clearly marketing them as the ultimate accessory for the beach bum who can’t be bothered to carry a wallet.
Visa’s newest product comes amid an attempted revival in so-called smart glasses.
Spectacles, which let wearers record videos and upload them to Snapchat for a price tag of $130, were launched in November initially sold in vending machines and are now available online in the US. They’ve opened a new pop-up shop in Los Angeles—but enthusiasm for the camera-enabled glasses might already be wearing off. Millennials, Snap’s biggest customers, think they are weird.
Google Glass was unveiled in 2012 with much fanfare and eagerly tested by celebrities and geeks alike, only to retreat (paywall) under insults labeling users privacy . Patents filed by Google since show that the company is attempting to make the computer that you wear on your nose more symmetrical and snug.
But even with all the futuristic possibilities of augmented reality and corrective lenses that adjust on the go, smart glasses have a long way to go.