Ťrue smart glasses may be a way off from being useful, or even wanted, but glasses that double as headphones are getting thinner, lighter and better looking. Now the Austrian firm Fauna wants to beat Bose at its own game.
The Fauna audio glasses come in a range of designs with clear and tinted lenses costing from £199 (€199/$199) – shown here in Spiro transparent brown – and unlike some competitors they can be equipped with prescription lenses and fitted to your head by an optician.
As Bose proved with its first Frames, the big benefit of having speakers in glasses is situational awareness. You don’t need earbuds blocking the world out when you have the open-air sound of tiny speakers next to your ears, which means you can still hear the traffic, bikes, birds and bees as you walk about.
The Fauna glasses get the basics right. They look good. The arms are noticeably smaller than the Bose Frames and only a little bit chunkier than regular glasses. They only weight about 15g more than a set of sunglasses too. They’re comfortable to wear for extended periods, are rain resistant and don’t look like a piece of technology strapped to your face.
Fauna has borrowed ideas from true wireless earbuds too. There’s no cable connecting each side of the glasses; instead each stem connects to your phone directly via Bluetooth, and the case doubles as an on-the-go charger.
Take the glasses out of the case and they automatically connect to your phone. They last up to four hours of music playback or 12 hours of standby, while the case can charge the glasses four times.
The Fauna sound good for open-ear headphones, significantly better than bone conduction and similar techniques about on a level with the Bose Frames. They produce an open and airy sound by design, with pretty detailed highs and mids, but a complete lack of bass. They don’t sound tinny, but they do lack the fullness of sound that you might expect from a good set of earbuds. That’s because you still need larger speakers or a good seal in your ear for that sort of audio quality.
Set to 40% they are loud enough for listening indoors and get really quite loud at maximum volume, which is needed when walking alongside a busy road. They do leak sound, but only people sitting in very close proximity will be able to hear the music if kept below 40% volume.
There’s something very nice about a little bit of background music to walks through the park in the sun while still being able to hear the squawks of London’s ring-necked parakeets overhead and the thump and cheer of kids playing football in the distance.
Call quality is very good, with my voice coming across clear and natural sounding in quiet environments and with little background noise in louder places. Note the microphone is only activated when on a call or when activity speaking to your phone’s voice assistant.
Fauna estimates the batteries in the glasses will maintain at least 80% of their original capacity for 500 full charge cycles. The battery in the case will maintain at least 60% of its original capacity after 500 cycles.
The frame and lenses of the Fauna glasses are replaceable, but the temples cannot be repaired and the batteries cannot be replaced, ultimately making them disposable. The case can be disassembled but Fauna does not offer repair services.
The glasses do not contain recycled material nor does Fauna operate a trade-in or recycling scheme in the UK. The company does not publish environmental impact assessments.
The Fauna audio glasses are a stylish set of sunglasses with built-in speakers in for open-air listening.
They sound good for what they are, are well designed and comfortable, last up to four hours, charge in their case and don’t look too different from a regular set of glasses. An optician can change the lenses and reshape the frame for your face, 也.
But like other audio glasses they can’t beat a set of earbuds on sound and their primary benefit – being able to hear the world around you – makes them hard to hear on busy streets.
The glasses are not repairable nor can the batteries be replaced, 然而, ultimately making them disposable and losing a star.