IFA 2019: Fauna's Focus smartglasses thrive where Bose fails

Of course, they do also stumble where Bose succeed

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Fauna showed off their Focus smartglasses at this year's IFA. We had the chance to go hands-on with them.

Though they're branded as audio glasses, it's hard not to see the Austrian startup's debut gadget just a different kind of smart glasses. 

Like Bose, Fauna's vision of what smartglasses should offer is a little less visual. It feels like these companies are going left while others are going right. And, unlike Bose, Fauna are looking to offer smartglasses that you'll want to wear everyday rather than just when it's particularly sunny outside.

In terms of design, the Fauna Focus look and feel a bit better to handle than the Bose Frame do. 

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

The arms of the frame are a smidge bulkier than I'd like and neither one of the two styles Fauna are offering is quite the style of glasses I'd ordinarily wear. Still, even in the dozen or so minutes I spent messing with them, they seemed like an immediate upgrade on the Frames when it came to both aesthetics and everyday wearability.  

Fauna also say they're going to offer prescription lenses - which Bose have yet to do. There are also sunglasses variants and transitional lenses on the table.

You can still see some of the seams where the tech meets the cellulose acetate but it's a far cry from something like HoloLens or Google Glass. Unless you're up in the details, these look like more like regular glasses than they do smart ones. At least until the USound MEMS loud speakers kick in.

Another difference here is that rather than have ports and buttons on the glasses themselves, the charging ports for the Focus are nicely concealed.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Sorry if it feels like I'm referencing the Bose Frames too much but it's really hard to separate the two products. They're trying to do all the same things and each seems to excel where the other struggles.

The audio quality on the Bose Frames was much better when it came to audio quality. Based on what we were told, it seems like the Focus will have better battery life. Bose's AR tech might be limited but it does work. The Fauna Focus alpha prototype unit we messed with was unable to show off the glasses' smart assistant integration at all. 

Our take? There are pros and cons on either side of the tablet but it's exciting to see new competition and diversity emerge in the smartglass space. As someone who wears glasses, I'm keen to see where it all goes.

Fauna are taking preorders for the Focus ahead of an October launch here.

Disclosure - PC World Australia's coverage of this year's IFA in Berlin was sponsored by Lenovo who covered the costs of our flights and accommodation.

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