One of the myths that people who work in Big Tech like to cultivate is that they are the smartest people in the room. I suppose this smugness stems from their unwavering confidence that technology can solve almost any problem, and that they have the brains and the resources to figure it out.

I hate to burst their bubble, but Big Techies aren’t as smart as they think they are. Take smart glasses, for example.

Remember when the first consumer-grade smart glasses were introduced a decade ago? Most were a flop. Why? The main reason was the poor form factor, a term tech designers use to describe the size, configuration or physical layout of a computing device. They were too bulky, too heavy or too geeky looking for everyday wear.

In fairness, some of the design problems stemmed from the size of the electronic components and batteries that were available at the time. And one could argue that smart glass designers had to start somewhere. But what’s baffling is that few smart glass makers, with a couple of notable exceptions, consulted with eyeglass designers. The failure to bring optical professionals into the design process was a serious flaw that shows the hubris of the Big Techies.

I admit that my enthusiasm for these early consumer-grade smart glasses was premature. Like many tech journalists, I was too eager to embrace a shiny new object without considering its practical aspects.

We have come a long way since then. This year at CES, the mega show for consumer electronics, a number of optical companies and brands showed up, some for the first time, with stylish smart glasses incorporating an improved form factor and features that are not just technically impressive, but more importantly, practical. (If you want to learn more about them, watch my monthly LTV videos for December 2023 and January 2024, which are delivered via email and can also be accessed in the video section of

Yet what’s most remarkable about some of these next gen smart glasses is that they offer AI-powered features. For example, Lucyd from Innovative Eyewear lets wearers tap into ChatGPT. EssilorLuxottica’s Ray-Ban Meta features the new Meta AI assistant which combines vision and language understanding. It also boasts a new multimodal AI capability that according to Meta, can translate a foreign language you’re trying to read, or come up with a funny caption for a photo you’ve taken. And Carrera Smart Glasses with Alexa combine high-end fashion with Alexa artificial intelligence.

Mike Elgan, a columnist for Computerworld, predicts that in 2024, “AI glasses will emerge as the most important gadget category in tech.” I agree. This could be a breakthrough year for smart glasses, thanks to features like these which illustrate the power of the growing collaboration between Big Tech and optical. It’s about time.

Andrew Karp
Group Editor, Lenses and Technology
[email protected]