See ya, Fitbit: VSP Global’s smartglasses make activity tracking look stylish

VSP Global introduced a new pair of smart glasses called Level that tracks your daily activities, such as step count, distance traveled, and calories burned. The wearable doesn’t include special screens to display the resulting information in your field of view like the highly-expensive Google Glass or Vuzix Blade. Instead, it throws out costly augmented reality technology to report your daily data in an app installed on a paired smartphone. 

“Because Level is centered on your body’s axis, our engineers have designed a step count model that accurately tracks purposeful steps and eliminates non-step movements,” the company explains. 

The activity-tracking component resides in the left temple of the frame while a Micro-USB port for charging seats on the left arm where it connects to the frame. The company says the battery takes around 30 minutes to charge, and lasts for about five days, depending on how you use the specs. 

Customers who purchase Level can sync their data with VSP Global’s “Eyes of Hope” initiative to earn points for achieving their daily goals. Once they reach 50 points, a comprehensive eye examination and eyewear goes to someone in need. Level owners can actually choose the group receiving the donations too: Children, elderly, veterans, or the homeless. 

Keep in mind that Level isn’t just a cool gadget; it’s built to replace frames you purchase from an optometrist. The drawback is that your eye doctor must participate in the VSP Global Premier Program, and there’s no sign of any way to purchase the specs outside your eye doctor’s office. The company says “hundreds” will offer the activity-tracking glasses once they go live across North America. 

“Each [is] designed by The Shop and produced in Italy through VSP Global’s eyewear division, Marchon,” the company adds. “The designs feature hand-polished cellulose acetate, stainless steel accents, and injection-molded temples. Each frame is available in four colors, including black, classic tortoise, slate and grey tortoise.” 

There are three unisex versions of Level, one of which is Minsky named after artificial intelligence researcher Marvin Minsky. There’s also a model borrowing its name from World War II radio guidance system designer Hedy Lamarr, and another named after futurist and mechanical engineer Nikola Tesla. The Minsky edition sports a modern-yet-classic rectangular shape, Hedy is somewhat cat-like, and Nikolo is a bit more rounded than its two Level-branded siblings. 

VSP Global’s Level will roll out in March for $270 in addition to the cost of your prescription lenses. The first market will be Sacramento, California, followed by five additional markets in April: Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C, and Portland, Oregon. Plans for additional markets will depend on consumer demand and feedback, so expect additional launch dates in the future if Level catches on with the activity-tracking crowd. 

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