The virtual and augmented reality industry is rapidly growing, with projected worth set to reach at least $340 billion by 2028. Once a popular option for gamers, augmented reality has now hit the running industry, with companies like Snap and Ghost Pacer releasing their newest inventions – augmented reality running glasses.
If you’re looking to up your running game, a pair of augmented reality running glasses might be just the thing you need to improve your pace, set yourself new goals, and, of course, shave off those all-important minutes on your best time.
Below, we’re going to take a look at the current best options for augmented reality running glasses, and what we can expect from this exciting new technology in the future.
- What Exactly is Augmented Reality?
- Where We Are With Augmented Reality
- How Does Augmented Reality Work?
- Benefits and Uses of Augmented Reality Running Glasses for Runners
- How Much Does it Cost?
- The Future of Augmented Reality and Running
What Exactly is Augmented Reality?
Investopedia describes augmented reality as an enhanced (sometimes improved) version of our real world achieved through digital visual details, sounds, or other sensory stimulants delivered through technology. It’s a growing trend with companies involved in business applications and mobile computing.
This definition barely scrapes the surface regarding the enormity and significance of this type of technology and how it can improve various tasks and activities, including running and keeping fit.
Now available to the running community in the form of augmented reality glasses, this technology is set to change the face of running as we know it. They can help you improve your running performance, time, and goals and give you new and exciting ways to keep fit.
This technology might seem ahead of its time, but it’s been successfully used by at least two companies to bring running into the 21st century using the latest and greatest in augmented reality technology.
Where We Are With Augmented Reality
While virtual reality headsets and devices have been around for at least a decade, augmented reality devices seem like new technology. Tech giants Apple and Samsung have hinted at the release of their AR glasses in 2023, but as yet, they’re nothing more than a rumor.
However, Snap (the makers of the social media application Snapchat) and Ghost Pacer have successfully designed and created augmented reality running glasses that are set to take the running world by storm. Augmented reality running glasses do everything from holographic projected running opponents to customized workouts.
Here is a little more on how these two tech giants are changing the way you run:
Designed by Princeton University graduate AdburRahman Bhatti in 2021, Ghost Pacer was nothing but a dream two years ago. Fast forward to the present, and Bhatti, along with over 800 supporters on Kickstarter, has realized his dream of having his augmented reality running glasses available to people worldwide.
Ghost Pacer is fully adjustable and customizable and can be set to guide and push you to your target pace.
Weighing only 70 grams, the Ghost Pacer glasses pair with Strava and their own companion smartphone application to allow runners to compete against a holographic running opponent while measuring distance, speed, and even heart rate. Sleek in design and style, the glasses are comfortable and lightweight, allowing for streamlined speed while providing a 40-degree field of view.
The Ghost Pacer company is based in Washington but sells its glasses in retail stores and online in several countries.
Spectacles by Snap Inc.
Snap Inc. first released its augmented reality glasses in 2017, but there have been a few tweaks along the way. Now available for beta testers, the glasses use augmented reality features like light-based pacing technology and computer-generated images to create the ultimate running experience.
The glasses weigh around 340 grams, which is heavier than those created by Ghost Pacer but still comfortable enough to wear on your run.
You can plan your route or choose from one of the prescribed running routes to improve your run time and performance, gain points for your pace, and explore the scenery in your town.
Snap Inc.’s Spectacles will be released to the greater public in the next five years.
How Does Augmented Reality Work?
Much like virtual reality, there are three main components of augmented reality that make your average run seem like an adventure.
Let’s look at these components in more detail and see how they’re used in augmented reality running glasses.
All computer hardware needs a graphical processing unit to impose the image or display. This can be via a computer or laptop, smartphone, and in the case of augmented reality, a pair of running glasses or spectacles.
Google first used glasses when it released the first edition of its hit product “Google Glass” in 2013. The company has, however, announced that they would cease all production of Google Glass in 2023, with tech support ceasing by the end of September 2023.
With Ghost Pacer and Snap Spectacles, the hardware would be housed within the glasses rather than the heavy goggles used in Virtual Reality sets and paired with its companion applications via a smartphone.
The software in augmented reality running glasses allows for understanding a user’s environment via a camera feed.
In the case of augmented reality glasses, the software uses three “components” or features to create their virtual running spaces:
- Environmental Understanding – takes into account features and flat surfaces to help create the perfect running environment that features hills, slopes, and more.
- Motion tracking – determines your position in relation to other objects like plants and obstacles and makes them a part of your running environment.
- Light estimation – uses perceived lighting to place virtual reality objects into real-time spaces that will have you running past bushes and trees and avoiding obstacles as you would on any trail.
These features allow the software to map out the physical environment and superimpose natural objects into the frame, creating a realistic running environment with obstacles and other natural objects in the frame of view.
The last component needed for augmented reality is, of course, the application. From computer-based applications to easy smartphone apps, the application is the software that runs code to superimpose the digital images or objects as identified in the software into a real-time space.
This can be seen in fun home-makeover apps that allow you to place furniture in your home to see what it would look like in your space before you buy it or as a holographic or ghost running partner that helps you improve your pace and speed.
Augmented Reality Glasses
Augmented reality glasses use a combination of the three components to create an exciting running experience that helps you set your course, personalize or customize your workout, and set your speed, distance, and pace with the help of a holographic running partner.
The software in the running glasses by Ghost Pacer and Spectacles by Snap Inc. take up and downhills into account, measure your distance, and can be adjusted to suit your fitness level and running goals.
You can join your friends for a virtual run as you link your glasses to the running application Strava and challenge yourself to match or beat their best running times.
Benefits and Uses of Augmented Reality Running Glasses for Runners
We could go on for days about the many benefits of using augmented reality glasses for your next run. But below, we’ll highlight the most popular features you can enjoy when you invest in a pair of running glasses that use augmented reality to help you increase your performance and provide excitement while out on a run.
#1: Holographic Running Partner
Most runners know the benefits of hitting the streets with a running partner. But what if one is not available? A holographic running partner solves the problem of finding someone to run with you by giving you the best opponent through a holographic projection. Set your speed, pace, and time limit via a handy companion app and race against the holographic partner to push yourself to your limits.
We can imagine a future where holographic runners are used to depict other real-life runners in the growing field of virtual racing.
#2: Customized Workouts
Are you training for an upcoming 5K? Are you trying to beat your best time and increase your fitness levels? Augmented reality running glasses allow you to customize your workout to help you increase your time or pace, set new fitness or running goals, and increase your run times.
#3: Connect with Strava
Strava is one of the most popular running applications in the world. Released to the public in 2009, the platform has over 95 million users worldwide, allowing passionate runners to record their runs, post their achievements, and connect with like-minded runners. Paired with Strava, AR running glasses allow you to race against your friends in a virtual setting, all while helping you keep track of your performance and pace.
#4: Monitor Your Heart Rate
It is imperative to keep track of and monitor your heart rate while running or exercising. AR running glasses pair well with Apple or Garmin watches to help track your vitals while on a run. Be it a long-distance run or a quick jog, AR technology will take care of you while you increase your fitness levels and running performance.
All the data you need to execute your planned workout will be available… without having to glance back and forth at your watch.
#5: New Environments
Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality uses real-time imaging to create a new environment. From birds, trees, and other obstacles to holographic “people,” there is a brand new and exciting world just waiting to be explored every time you put your running glasses on. Skip the boring trails and say hello to fresh new environments when you take advantage of the mixed reality that augmented reality running glasses provide you as a runner.
In our opinion, one of the best use-cases for this technology will be as a navigation tool. Wouldn’t it be great to have a visual guide to direct your trail runs? No more stopping every 100 meters to check you haven’t taken a wrong turning!
How Much Does it Cost?
You would expect augmented reality running glasses to cost a bundle, right? In reality, they cost around the same as many middle-range running watches from Apple and Garmin.
A pair of Ghost Pacer glasses will set you back between $300 and $400, depending on where you buy them and their features, while Spectacles by Snap Inc. is worth $380 currently – this is without the running features, so the price could go up by the time they are released to the public.
The Future of Augmented Reality and Running
Many have asked: Is there a future for augmented reality in the running industry? We say yes, and here’s why.
While the pandemic caused chaos around the world for the last three years, it also gave rise to new and exciting ways of doing things like competing in running races. With in-person running events forbidden, running clubs and events companies created virtual running races and events that allowed runners to participate in their favorite races anywhere in the world. All you had to do was sign up for the race, track your performance with Strava, your Garmin, or an Apple watch, and you were good to go.
With augmented reality, you can load the various courses onto your glasses, pass VR checkpoints and maneuver your way over hills and through obstacles and trails just like you would if you were actually there. Add a holographic running partner, and you can push yourself even further while monitoring your heart rate and other vitals.
Augmented reality provides new opportunities, new environments, and, most important, a great way to keep fit while working on your running performance and fitness goals.
With the tech industry continuously changing and advancing, the opportunities to create new and exciting inventions are endless, giving rise to things like augmented reality. And while this technology is still fairly new in the running world, it may soon take over running as we know it by introducing fun innovations that will change the face of running.