Audio eyewear has been around for years now. It is honestly a terrific idea. For starters, unless you are the living embodiment of Vincent Van Gogh, your eyewear uses your ears to sit on your face. For the most part, the temples on your eyewear are just something to be adjusted to fit your individual facial features for comfort and proper fitting in front of your eyes. So why not add audio to eyewear?
There are a number of players in the audio eyewear field. Some well-known names you might recognize instantly, like Bose, Ray-Ban, or Amazon. Others might need an introduction. One such brand is Fauna. Fauna was founded in 2019. They are a solid company with good resources behind them. I met with them at MIDO last month and after asking a few questions, was asked to try a pair of their audio glasses for myself.
Before linking the Fauna eyewear with my phone, I felt compelled to ask about privacy. A number of smart glasses have been introduced over the years that track pretty much everything you do or say or for that matter go. The user agreement with some of these devices acknowledges they may use the data collected to enhance their smart or digital features in much the same way we agree to use their web services. Yet with audio glasses or any smart glasses, we are taking them places we might not want others listening in on or watching us.
I realize in some respects I am fighting a losing battle as Google tracks me, Facebook tracks me, Apple tracks me, Verizon tracks me, and who knows who else? However, do I want another device following me everywhere I go, tracking everything I say, or everything I look up online? In this case, I would rather not. As much as I like the concept of an Amazon Echo or a Google Nest, I am not comfortable with those devices silently listening in and recording everything that is said around the house. I would much rather press a button on my phone or type in a few characters on one of my computers when I need to look something up.
I picked a pair of Fauna’s audio sunglasses to try. The Fauna eyeglasses and sunglasses come packed with instructions in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese. Since my knowledge of any of those languages is limited to ordering a coffee and counting to 10, I chose to read the English version which was easy to understand and not filled with useless fluff.
One of the first things you notice trying them on is how comfortable they feel. You can tell they designed these frames to be eyewear first and an audio component afterward. The frame front is made of Italian acetate and not injected molded plastic. I have tried on several audio glasses over the years that were designed the other way around. Those were speakers first and eyewear second.
The Fauna eyeglasses and sunglasses record nothing. They are strictly a device to connect with your cell phone via Bluetooth like a pair of headphones, only these headphones are actually eyewear. There is no special app to pair the glasses or use the glasses.
The lenses on the Fauna sunglasses are Carl Zeiss sun lenses, not just some cheap tinted lenses. These lenses block 99% of UVA and UVB light. There is a noticeable quality to wearing them and looking at the world around you. The glasses are lightweight at 50 grams. They weigh very little more than a good pair of modern stylish chunky frames.
Pairing the sunglasses with my phone was a snap. The glasses are held in a charging case. The contacts to charge the glasses are at the hinge point, so the glasses charge while in the case, and the contact points are hidden while wearing the glasses.
The Fauna glasses use an integrated USound Mems system with micro-speakers. Listening to podcasts is wonderfully easy on these sunglasses. So too is the sound quality of phone calls. So too is listening to music, whether directly from my phone or via any music streaming service, like Spotify. While I was able to hear the music clearly, no one around me could hear anything coming from the speakers located in the temples. The phone has two built-in microphones that make phone calls sound great. I made several calls using these and no one I spoke to asked if I was using something other than my phone. That is always a good sign of audio quality. We’ve all had phone calls with someone wearing crummy headsets that make the conversation difficult at best.
There are touch controls built into the temples of the Fauna eyewear. Double-tap the left temple to start or pause the music or podcast. Slide along the temple towards your ear to increase volume or toward the front of the frame to reduce volume. Double-tap to accept a phone call or end an ongoing call. On the right-hand temple, double-tap to bring up your phone’s voice assistant (if you are not using voice commands to do so) or to re-pair the eyewear to your phone.
As far as sound quality is concerned, the speakers are of good quality with plenty of stereo separation. The highs and mid-tones of conversations and music are terrific. The Fauna system is lacking in the bass, however. I am not speaking of the bass-driven techno sounds one might want in a pair of expensive speakers or headphones when the mood strikes, but the bass that is so clearly a part of Yo-Yo Ma’s performance of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major or even the bass backbone beat of Rodney Yates by David Holmes that was part of the Ocean’s 11 Soundtrack. This is one of the very few places where these glasses come up short.
The other is disconnecting the glasses from my phone. Like many mini-headphones, the only way to disconnect the eyeglasses from your phone is to place them back in the charging case. While some of my mini-headphone cases fit easily in my pants pocket, the case for the Fauna Eyewear is a bit bigger. That leaves you either carrying the charging case with you everywhere or manually going into your Bluetooth settings and manually disconnecting the eyewear. It does make pairing them once again a bit more of a chore, but nothing too painful. It might be nice in future versions to add something like automatically disconnecting the eyewear from your phone when they are folded or turned upside down.
Battery life is measured at up to 20 hours in standby mode and up to 4 hours of constant play of music or phone calls. The Fauna audio eyewear fully charges in less than 2 hours in their case. The case has built-in batteries so you don’t need a cord to charge them.
Overall, I am quite fond of the Fauna sunglasses and look forward to wearing them a lot this summer, whether by the pool (yes, with plenty of sunscreen), playing tennis, or enjoying a nice long evening walk. At a retail price of $149, they are a great addition to any eyewear wardrobe. Fauna is also available at wholesale prices for optical shops to carry and sell the eyewear in their shops. Check out Fauna for yourself at wearfauna.us