While many other consumer brands have launched eyewear with built-in wireless audio features, and even smart glasses concepts, so far the use-case has not been determined. For consumers forced to wear glasses the idea of buying special eyewear with built-in speakers is ridiculous, while people who don't need eyeglasses see also no need to wear them just because they want to listen to music.
JLab Audio's JBuds Frames are basically two independently operating Bluetooth true wireless audio devices, which can be affixed to the temples of sunglasses, eyeglasses, and similarly styled blue light blocking eyewear (for computer use). The device's open-ear design features appropriately sized 16.2mm drivers that produce sound for personal use, without being heard by those close by. The open-ear design of the JBuds Frames also allows the wearer to be acutely aware of their surroundings while listening to audio content in any activity – whether working from home to exercising outdoors.
The two wireless audio devices have built-in 120mAh lithium polymer batteries that are able to be fully charged in two hours from any 5V 90mA source and offer 100 hours of standby time or 8 hours of playtime. Charging is done with the supplied USB cable, which attaches to each device independently on one end, using magnetic pin connectors, and connect to any external USB charger on the other end. The Bluetooth system allows either JBuds Frame device to be used independently, supporting audio streaming in AAC or SBC codecs.
In the same way as JLab true wireless earbuds come with multiple ear tips to ensure a secure fit, the JBuds Frames come with multiple silicone sleeves to help accommodate various sized eyewear temples. They also have an IPX4 rating, ensuring they're safe from splashes while the user listens to a podcast while brushing its teeth in the morning or during light rain while the wearer is on a trail run. Dual connect technology enables either JBuds Frames component to be used independently to conserve battery life, and their 30' Bluetooth range to the device allows freedom of movement. Conveniently located button controls let the user accept or decline phone calls, adjust volume, and switch between JLab's Signature and Bass Boost EQ settings.
Current premium-level audio-equipped eyewear products are priced at $200 or above, available in just a handful of styles and colors, and have the audio technology permanently integrated in a way that is far from discreet. JLab's JBuds frames promote the BYOF ("bring your own frame) design concept instead, which allows them to be affixed to almost any type of eyeglasses or sunglasses. JBuds Frames are expected to be available early in spring 2021 and retail for $50, which is $150-$200 below comparable releases from other brands.
The obvious benefit of the JBuds Frames BYOF design is that they are not permanent and can be switched between eyewear sets based on preference or necessity. Since JBuds Frames can accommodate a broad range of eyewear, they can be affixed to different eyewear as tastes change or for the task at hand.Two hooks secure the JBuds Frames to almost any type of eyeglasses, while two sets of silicone sleeves ensure a tight fit on styles with smaller temples.
"We loved the idea of what was happening in the audio-equipped frames category, but their price and design don't match the needs of the typical consumer. Besides price, one of the biggest flaws we saw was in the eyewear design and how the audio components were integrated. Their optics and frames didn't match up to a typical $200-$250 non-audio product, and limited styles will lead to the inevitable 'You're wearing that too? Awkward!' conversations," says JLab CEO Win Cramer. "You can put the JLab JBuds Frames on any glasses you own, without fear of commitment or wearing the same eyewear as the person you're next to."