With its Engo 2, the French manufacturer Microoled offers augmented reality glasses with a head-up display to display your training data. Real interest or just a gimmick? Here is her full test.
Engo 2 standard format glasses // Source: Brice Zerouk – Frandroid
The area of connected glasses is still a wasteland. Since the introduction of Google Glass more than a decade ago, it’s still an area to explore for many manufacturers. But few manufacturers offer innovative solutions that go beyond simple video capture – like Snapchat or glasses from Meta and Ray-Ban – or glasses that act as speakers – like Bose frames.
The French manufacturer Microoled, based in Grenoble, on the other hand, tries to seduce athletes in particular with its Engo 2 glasses. These are actually augmented reality glasses that allow you to display certain data for your sports training directly in your field of vision. What to convince, or a simple gimmick? To find out, here is the Engo 2 test.
Engo 2 technical sheet
|app||iOS, Watch OS, Android, Garmin|
This test was performed using glasses provided by the manufacturer.
Engo 2 glasses with a futuristic design
Glasses are not a technical product like the others. You inevitably wear them directly on your face, so design as well as comfort are paramount in your choice.
Engo 2 Jars // Source: Brice Zerouk – Frandroid
With this little game, I have to admit that I was initially apprehensive about testing the Engo 2s. I have to say that I rarely walk in sunglasses and I was afraid of the massive ski goggle effect or the shabby look of the beaches. Finally, Microoled managed to limit this danger. Although the Engo 2 glasses are made from a single piece of polycarbonate lens, they tend to be thin and understated…at least for you. When it came time to run, I felt a lot of staring at me, but more for the fact that I was wearing glasses per se than for connected glasses.
It must be said that Microoled has managed to make its glasses quite discreet with classic branches that do not have any connected parts: no battery, no sensor, no projector. In fact, the entire connected part of the Engo 2 is housed in the center of the goggles, around the pads, between the two eyes. Only small elements reveal the connected aspect of the glasses, a sensor between the eyes and a tab on the right lens to hang the connected part on the back.
The module associated with Engo 2 // Source: Brice Zerouk – Frandroid
However, this statement has to be qualified in terms of design, since Microoled actually offers two formats for its Engo 2, always with 133mm long branches:
- Standard format: 138 x 49 mm, total 36 grams
- Large format: 139 x 61 mm, 41 grams in total
The standard format is designed to allow better ventilation by limiting both weight and fogging. A more thoughtful use for running. The wide format, on the other hand, which I haven’t been able to test, is specifically designed for cyclists by limiting the wind that could flow behind the glass pane. Nevertheless, in both cases the Engo 2 has small ventilation holes on the underside of the goggles to allow air circulation.
Note that the Microoled Engo 2 comes with several accessories such as: B. a sturdy travel bag, a soft bag, a microfiber cloth and a tether.
Engo 2 comfort
With a weight of 36 grams in the standard version, the Engo 2 are quite comfortable glasses to wear. At least they don’t press too hard on the bridge of the nose or the ears.
On the other hand, it is necessary to position them as close as possible to the eyes to take good care of them. On my first try, with an hour-long session running, I had to swap them out every thirty seconds. It has to be said that I positioned them a little too far forward and because of the vibrations with every step they tended to fall further and further down. However, on my subsequent outings, once I positioned them as close to the eyes as possible, this problem no longer occurred.
Engo 2 tend to slip // Source: Brice Zerouk – Frandroid
These support concerns are all the more problematic given that the goggles are primarily used for head-up functions. However, if they slip, you’ll lose the augmented reality information from your field of vision. I thought that this problem only happened when running, but after a 3-hour bike ride, my colleague Maxime, to whom I had entrusted the Engo 2, told me that he had encountered the same problem.
Another special feature of the Engo 2 glasses is their centrally connected module, which weighs 13 grams and was developed by Microoled. If it is rather discreet in absolute terms, it does not disappear completely from the field of vision and, without being annoying, it is clearly visible as a small black spot at the bottom of your field of vision, especially in the right part that receives the display device.
The module connected to Engo 2 may slightly affect the field of view // Source: Brice Zerouk – Frandroid
Finally, note that polycarbonate lenses are effective enough for exercising in direct sunlight without ever being glared. On the other hand, if the glasses are very suitable for sports in the middle of the day, they become useless for sports at night. After all, it is primarily a pair of sunglasses that will darken your surroundings. On the other hand, my colleague Simon, who is used to Oakley cycling glasses that emphasize contrast, told me that he was embarrassed that the polycarbonate lenses were content to act as sunglasses.
Another consequence of this format: the glasses cannot function as corrective glasses and cannot be worn in addition to normal glasses.
Water resistance and sporty use of the Engo 2
It goes without saying that the Engo 2 is a pair of glasses that are primarily designed for sports and are therefore suitable for this use. However, the manufacturer does not communicate about certifications and seals and is content with offering an “anti-sweat” coating or being “resistant to sweat, rain and dust”.
The Engo 2 // Source: Brice Zerouk – Frandroid
So we can use the goggles for running, cycling or trail running, but the Engo 2 is absolutely not suitable for underwater use such as swimming.
A very simple connection to a smartphone or a watch
Engo 2 glasses are not standalone glasses. They only serve as a heads-up display, so they need to be plugged into another device that transmits its own data to it.
Engo 2 Jars // Source: Brice Zerouk – Frandroid
There are several solutions available to you for this:
- An Android smartphone
- An iPhone
- An Apple Watch
- A Garmin connected watch
- A bike computer from Garmin
Microoled has also announced future compatibility with sports watches from Finnish brand Suunto. However, Polar or Coros models are not taken into account, nor are connected watches under Wear OS. However, Microoled claims to have opened up its APIs, which would theoretically allow anyone to develop a compatible application.
The ActiveLook app
To connect the glasses to a smartphone – Android or iOS – you need to install the ActiveLook application on your smartphone. This is the application developed by Microoled to control the head-up display of the glasses. It’s also the same application used by other models of head-up display glasses such as the Engo 1, the Julbo Evad 1, the Cosmo Vision or the ActiveLook Enterprise.
From there you can connect your glasses simply by turning them on, start training and, above all, configure the various data displayed in your field of vision. The options on offer are fairly comprehensive, as up to six pieces of data can be displayed at once, ranging from real-time speed to total distance, including average pace, positive altitude, max power or cadence.
In addition, three data screens can be configured for a total of 18 data maximums to be displayed.
However, using a smartphone is far from ideal for one simple reason: the data displayed comes from the smartphone. However, while smartphones can be relatively accurate at GPS location – and therefore speed or pace – they are not best suited for certain data such as power or heart rate because they cannot obtain that information.
Connect to a watch or bike computer
For these reasons, after two training sessions with my smartphone, I quickly got into the habit of using the Engo 2 glasses on my connected watch, a Garmin Forerunner 255.
This time, to connect the glasses to the watch, the “ActiveLook” data field must be installed in the Garmin Connect IQ Store. Then simply add this data field to your training screen and the glasses will automatically connect to the clock on the training loading screen. It’s handy for now.
The ActiveLook data field // Source: Brice Zerouk – Frandroid
However, the configuration of the data displayed in the glasses when they are connected to a watch is a little less. This involves going into the ActiveLook data field settings in the Garmin Connect IQ app on your smartphone and then juggling the numbers. The settings don’t actually specify what data is shown, but use a numeric code – e.g. B. 1=total time, 2=distance, 15=pace, 6=average heart rate. It is impossible to guess what data corresponds to this or that number, but it is possible to find the list on a special page of the ActiveLook site.
Once this tedious configuration is done, you can then train normally. When you start training, the data is then displayed in real time in the glasses in addition to your wrist.
Engo 2 controls
To control the glasses yourself, you have two options: a physical button above the connected module and a motion sensor between the two eyes.
To turn them on or off you have to actuate the physical button by holding your finger on it for a few seconds. To change the data screen – among the three offered displays – you have to wave your hand in front of the sensor or touch it.
The Engo 2 motion sensor is located between the two eyes // Source: Brice Zerouk – Frandroid
It was precisely this manipulation that frustrated me the most during my test. Very often when I wanted to put my glasses back on I had to switch data screens and then go through them all again – including the screen saver which was off – before returning to my original display. And while it’s fairly easy to pick up your goggles when running, simply by pulling on the temples with both hands, when you’re on a bike it’s another pair of sleeves if you want to keep at least one hand on the handlebars.
Fortunately, it is possible to disable the gesture sensor via the smartphone app.
The Engo 2 Bluetooth connection
To connect to the smartphone, connected watches or bike computer, the Engo 2 uses a simple Bluetooth connection in version 4.2. If the data display between watch and glasses is not perfectly synchronized, the latency is no more than one second. In addition, I had no connection problems and the connection between the glasses and the watch remained absolutely stable during all my training sessions.
Engo 2 display and data
To display the data in the semi-reflective glass of its goggles, Microoled uses a monochrome Amoled micro-projector system. The data is thus displayed in fluorescent yellow with a slight green tinge on a black background that becomes transparent when projected onto the glass thanks to a system of mirrors. The glasses are also equipped with a light sensor that automatically adjusts the intensity of the projected image to the ambient light. It’s practical and works well.
Simulation of the field of vision offered by the Engo 2 // Source: Chloé Pertuis editorial team – Frandroid
Specifically, the manufacturer promises the “projection of a virtual screen at a distance of 4 meters”. In reality it’s a bit more complicated. Since the data is displayed only a few centimeters from the eyes, you must constantly focus on that part of the field of view to see the readings. It’s impossible to focus on both rough terrain and heart rate when descending a trail. The same is also true for mountain bike or gravel bike tours, as you will inevitably have to focus on the terrain.
Data displayed in Engo 2 // Source: Brice Zerouk – Frandroid
Damage. I was hoping that these glasses would allow me to dispense with wrist movements to consult the data on the watch, while focusing on the sports data displayed directly in the field of view. That’s not the case because when I look at my heart rate or my pace, I inevitably lose focus on the terrain I’m running on.
Another problem that occurs particularly when riding a racing bike, on long tours or when trail running is the data displayed. The Engo 2 is content with more classic readings that are displayed in the form of numbers. However, when I gave the glasses to my relatives to explain their role to them, the same question always came up: “Can they show the route and upcoming turns?” “. No, you can’t…at least not with Garmin watches.
The Engo 2 // Source: Brice Zerouk – Frandroid
Unlike an in-car head-up display, it’s not capable of showing directional arrows or even your position on the route of your route. Too bad, this function would have been very useful, especially on a bike, if connected to a dedicated meter. However, it appears to be in development for Suunto watches.
Ultimately, this is the main concern of the data displayed: it is ultimately the same data that we find on our watch or on our bike computer, albeit stripped of some very practical functions. In any case, it’s fun to have a simple look at the heart rate without moving your arm. But that doesn’t do much for a watch that’s connected to the glasses anyway and that you can just as easily read by raising your arm.
Autonomy of Engo 2
Microoled claims up to 12 hours of use with its Engo 2 glasses. For my part, I counted 10 to 15% less battery after an hour of running. After three hours on the bike, the battery had lost 40% of its charge this time.
It must be said that the autonomy of the glasses largely depends on the external brightness, due to the integrated light sensor. The brighter the environment, the brighter the display and the faster the battery drains.
The Engo 2 Charging Cable // Source: Brice Zerouk – Frandroid
To charge the Engo 2, the manufacturer provides a USB-A cable with a magnetic connector. The problem is that the glasses failed to charge to 100% several times. Charging seemed to stop once the glasses reached 95-90%. This is undoubtedly a battery saving measure, but it would have been good to have been warned.
Price and release date of Engo 2
The Engo 2 glasses are available at a price of 329 euros. They are available in two sizes, large or standard, and in two frame colors, black or white. However, the price remains the same regardless of format and colour.