IFA 2019: TCL's wearable display smartglasses are right out of Black Mirror

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

In addition to their new Plex smartphone, TCL also showed off a nifty set of smartglasses at this year's IFA.

More of a concept piece than a market-ready product, TCL's smartglassess are based around a question. 

What if you take the big screen TV experience with you? 

Rather than sit on your morning commute and watch something on the screen of your device, you could watch a floating screen that could be as big as 55-inch TV. To that end, TCL's smartglasses utilise a transparent micro OLED screen. 

The idea here is that you wire the wearable display into your smartphone and then watch content that way. The glasses themselves don't have any sort of built-in battery, they'll just drain your phone a little faster. 

The smartglasses I used didn't seem to have any sort of native operating system but the demo did allow me to navigate a rudimentary user interface by tilting my head. As with all gyroscope-involved things, that was sometimes a little finnicky but it felt functional enough.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

When turned off, the experience is more or less the same as wearing a set of heavy-duty sunglasses. When turned on, you'll see a reasonably detailed scren in front of you. It's very sci-fi, even if the tech powering it felt unpolished. In action, the colors and detail I got from video content playing through the glasses was good enough that it didn't feel like that much of compromise. 

Since the virtual screen sort of "floats" in the air in front of you, it's not as immersive as something like a VR headset would be. However, given that the use case for this kind of product is stuff like planes or trains, having that little bit of awareness when it comes to the outside world could be a good thing.

Our Take? As someone who has lugged a VR headset onto a plane in pursuit of that portable big screen experience, TCL's demo really impressed me. 

Yes, the style and size of the smartglasses TCL are showing off is way too big and conspicuous. However, the core functionality is there and it's not hard to imagine a world where a slimmer, smarter and better version of that prototype finds an audience.

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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