Oakley launched the Radar Pace this week. The “smart” eyewear tracks speed, pace, and a lot more, and gives you realtime feedback with digital “coaching.” We put it to the test.
I’m gliding along the Kona coast on a road bike, paralleling the Pacific ocean. Pushing the pedals, I sweat as the hot tropical sun beats down upon my back.
Suddenly my coach reprimands me. “You’ve been coasting throughout this ride. Pedal continuously and control your speed through cadence or braking.”
My “coach” in this case, is the new replica Oakley Radar Pace. It’s “smart” eyewear that cheap Oakley just launched in partnership with Intel. It uses Intel’s Real Speech technology to communicate with the user.
We spent several days putting the Radar Pace through the paces (cough, cough) at a press launch coinciding with the Kona Ironman Triathlon World Championship.
Oakley Radar Pace: Smart Eyewear
The Radar Pace tracks power, speed, heart rate, cadence, distance, and time. The eyewear pairs with your phone via Bluetooth, and various external sensors.
Metrics are then tracked and recorded via the free Oakley Radar Pace app, available for both iOS and Android. Data is analyzed as you ride. The Pace’s digital coach then makes real-time suggestions to improve your performance.
It is USB rechageable and ships with a clear lens for low-light conditions. It can run for four to six hours on a single charge.
Beyond simply presenting “the numbers,” the virtual coaching creates real, actionable training programs and structured workouts to help you plan solid performance and attain future goals.
Over two years in the making, the Radar Pace marries Oakley’s top-shelf Prizm lens with Bluetooth earbuds and a touch pad on the temple. It allows you to send and receive texts, calls and listen to music. It’s all hands-free, no futzing with your wristwatch or handlebar-mounted jackery. The Intel Real Speech technology voice-activated interaction is really cool – some James Bond-level stuff.
Paired with a variety of sensors – our test bikes had Powertap pedals and I wore a chest strap to monitor heart rate — I could ask my “coach” questions.
“How’s my cadence?” or “What’s my heartrate?”
A chipper woman’s voice then let me know if I was within an acceptable, efficient cadence, or if my wheezing indicated I needed to get my act together.
Review: Oakley Radar Pace
During the test on the island, there were several Bluetooth connectivity problems, attributed to the recent iOS 10 updates made by Apple. This made for some hiccups in our user experience.
On a two-hour solo ride, I climbed the steep road known as “The Wall” leading away from our hotel into the surrounding neighborhood. Steady progress reports told me my cadence and elevation gains.
I climbed 1,000 feet in just under 10 miles before pointing back down the coast. My phone ran the current iOS 10.0.2. On the return, the Radar Pace app continued recording my data. However the device itself repeatedly lost connection with the Bluetooth signal, resulting in no feedback from the “coach.”
The next day, on a 45-mile ride when paired with a different phone still running iOS 9, I had constant feedback regarding my cadence, speed, and heart rate. Ultimately, it led to a more efficient ride with no Bluetooth problems.
Reportedly, there have been issues with the latest iOS updates in other technologies, as well.
Both the Oakley outlet and Intel engineers on hand at the launch were understandably frustrated by the situation. Ongoing firmware updates are in progress and should address the problem soon.
Oakley Radar Pace: Conclusions
At $49 MSRP, it has to be stated that the Radar Pace are extremely pricey sunglasses. But factor in the technology and a pair of Bluetooth earbuds, plus what an actual coach or personal trainer might cost. Then lump on the fact that a pair of the standard Oakley Radar glasses with a second lens (and no coaching) costs around $30.
With that, the Radar Pace doesn’t seem so outlandish.