The 10 Best Video Glasses
This wiki has been updated 17 times since it was first published in October of 2017. If you always wanted a pair of glasses that could record videos, but thought they only existed in spy movies, then think again. Today's tiny camera technology has given birth to a slew of options that are surprisingly affordable, pleasantly reliable, and capable of recording your most important moments in up to HD quality. Just be sure to check local privacy laws before using them in public. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 03, 2020:
This update saw surprisingly few changes. There were a few notable models that were released, and a handful of older models that have established themselves as well-made portable video recorders. While they in general won't be as durable as an action camera, they are very lightweight and discrete, and can function as close-range spy listeners in the right settings.
The Snapchat Spectacles 3 are perhaps the most exciting pair to hit the market in some time. They have two separate cameras that allow them to record 3D videos, and the app lets you add fun animations to make for immersive visuals. That said, it comes at a pretty hefty price, and given the limited forums to share these types of VR videos, not to mention the fact that devices you can use to view them are far from prevalent, it really only appeals to a niche market. It's for this reason we left the older Snapchat Spectacles 2 on this list, as they will suit most buyers' needs quite a bit better.
While the Lawmate Covert EG20CL suffer a similar problem to the Snapchat Spectacles 3 in terms of being cost-prohibitive, the added cost in these goes towards more practical things, like a vibration feature that allows you to confirm that the glasses have started recording without revealing this info to anyone around you. The camera lens is also virtually imperceptible, so if it's important that you do your recording covertly, these might be your best option. It's used by a number of law enforcement agencies, though there are few legitimate reasons civilians would need them. The WiseUp Wearable Mini and Hereta Spy Support are decent budget options for those who just want something that isn't terribly conspicuous.
July 10, 2019:
This is a category that regularly sees quite a bit of turnover for a pair of reasons. First, camera technology seems to update at a reliably accelerated clip, so these devices get a little better all the time. And second, many of these pairs are manufactured by less-than-reputable brands. We do our best to make sure that the models on our list come to you from companies that still exists in the years to follow, but some can't seem to make it last. The Sunsome SG110 were one such pair, made by a purveyor of generic electronic goods, but offering glasses that had good specs, so we included them. Unfortunately, the availability of the product disappeared.
We have discovered a few new entries from brands more likely to stick around, like the Lawmate option at number three and the RecorderGear CG1000 set that ended up as a special honor. Those Lawmates don't boast the highest resolution, but their build quality and inconspicuous design won big points. At number one, however, is a product that's both associated with a major brand name and designed to look as good as they function. I'm talking about the Spectacles 2, from Snap Inc. Great style and color options, great comfort, and great video quality.
RecorderGear CG1000 This pair does an admirable job concealing its camera lens, and their 72-degree viewing angle is effective in replicating the average person's field of vision. Some users are going to want to see more than that, however, and for their price, these could have slightly better battery life. recordergear.com
From Eye, To Brain, To Television
Many ancient philosophers believed that the eye emanated a conical beam of light that grabbed onto objects in its path.
Technology benefits society in countless ways, enabling healthcare, education, government, and pretty much every other aspect of modern life. Modern electronic technology has given humanity a host of devices we could scarcely live without, such as the combination smartphone and high-definition camera that most Americans carry in their pocket all day long. But, in case a phone is too large, unwieldy, or conspicuous for your needs, engineers have gone to great lengths to stuff powerful HD video cameras inside average-looking glasses.
Many ancient philosophers believed that the eye emanated a conical beam of light that grabbed onto objects in its path. Called the "active eye" theory, this was first rejected by Aristotle, though it would be another few thousand years before Johannes Kepler (of planetary-motion fame) accurately theorized the inverted-intromission theory by describing how the retina works, and indicating that the optic nerve is more central to sight than the eyeball itself.
Optical glass receives scattered mention across a few hundred years of literature beginning in the 11th century, and by sometime around 1290, lenses came together with frames to form the first eyeglasses. You wouldn't recognize them today, though; the now-familiar design wasn't introduced until the early 1700s.
Just over 100 years old, the audiovisual field has expanded at breakneck speed. From Edison's Kinetoscope, through Ginsberg's VTR, and finally arriving at today's tiny, digital cameras, video recording has proven itself among the fastest-growing fields of innovation and consumption. And now it comes built into glasses.
Capturing The Essence Of Video
Cameras do take in images, but they don't work at all similarly to human eyesight. Analog cameras, for example, create images based on the chemical reaction between light energy and chemical-laden celluloid film. Early digital cameras used a charge-coupled device that created an analog readout of the colors it received, and transmitted that to a built-in analog-to-digital converter for later storage. While these high-quality sensors are good enough for the likes of the mighty Hubble Space Telescope, over the last few decades the CMOS image sensor has largely taken over the consumer video market. The CMOS sensor delivers individually amplified pixel information using a network of transistor pairs. Because they're built using the same process as CPUs and RAM, they're considerably cheaper to manufacture, and they consume quite a bit less power because it doesn't take much energy to switch the polarities of their linked and balanced transistors.
Recording doesn't actually involve moving pictures, but rather a series of frames presented in such quick succession that our brains fool us into thinking they're moving. Feed the eye a fast enough frame rate and the brain will most likely fill in the gaps. An LCD screen displaying an image at 60Hz, for example, is incredibly similar to real-life, fluid motion, despite the human eye's incredible detection capabilities. Video is commonly recorded at 30 and 60FPS, and camera speeds are increasing well past 120FPS. Cinema, however, is still traditionally shot at 24FPS, partially because that's roughly the lower limit for most people's brains to maintain the illusion of motion without causing eye strain. All a camera has to do is take many pictures per second; video playback is simply those still frames strung together.
One of the reasons the science fiction genre has always been so popular is that, by definition, it's solidly based in reality. In fact, many argue that the last 100 years of the sci-fi literary tradition has been a tour de force of engineering philosophy. And, chiefly, if something fictional is based in reality, then there's always the possibility (however remote) that it someday becomes reality. Today, that means an abundance of ultra-compact, DIY spyglasses.
There's a relatively diverse selection of video-enabled glasses on the market today. The simplest options consist of just a frame, clear lenses, and a camera. These straightforward models are usually relatively affordable, and they're great for outdoor activities that keep your hands too busy to hold a camera. Surprisingly, not all models are able to take still photos, so if that's important to you, make sure to pay attention to your choice's still function.
Alternately, if capturing HD video is only a small part of your plans, there's a relatively upstart field of smart and augmented reality glasses.
When it comes to the outdoors, it's imperative to keep in mind the flaming ball of gas in the sky. As such, there are a handful of shaded options, both polarized and non-polarized. The polarized versions are especially helpful to fisherman, although it's important to remember that the camera sensor itself isn't usually behind a polarized lens, and therefore won't be able to penetrate the water like your own vision does through the polarizing filter.
Most video glasses utilize a micro SD card, often topping out at 32- or 64-gigabyte capacities. While that's not a ton of storage, it should hold about as much video as you can get out of one full charge of the unit's batteries, which in some models is as long as an 90 minutes. Others can transmit data as well as take commands via Bluetooth, and while wireless connection is a bit simpler, it's usually noticeably slower than simply swapping out the flash memory.
Alternately, if capturing HD video is only a small part of your plans, there's a relatively upstart field of smart and augmented reality glasses. The trend started with the since-discontinued Google Glass, and there's no telling when it will end. Engineers are working as hard as ever to pack cutting-edge features and high-end hardware into frames light enough to rest easily on the bridge of your nose.
The right pair of video glasses can free up a limb for the more important tasks at hand, like keeping the raft upright or reeling in that big fish. Remain aware of your surroundings, and don't forget that some people may take issue if you record without their explicit permission. But in the event that you slip up and your line snaps, as long as you have concrete visual evidence, somebody will have to believe you about the big one that got away.