Oakley has never been a brand to shy away from striking design, but its latest eyewear has such a crazy look that the company has used augmented reality (AR) to help introduce it to a select group — and to make it possible to understand how these sunglasses will look once they’re on your face. Why? Because the Oakley Kato’s frameless, wraparound, contour-fitting design makes them appear more like a superhero-style mask than your average pair of Oakley sunglasses.
Digital Trends has been given an exclusive look at the AR experience that accompanies the Oakley Kato, which you can see in the video above, along with a series of sketches and concepts that led to the creation of the Kato’s special AR-equipped “pod.” To help promote the Kato glasses, Oakley sent the pod containing them, which appears to be modeled on a UFO, to members of Team Oakley, including NFL players Patrick Mahomes (seen in the photo below) and Juju Smith-Schuster, and motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi
When activated and viewed through a smartphone, the pod comes to life and the AR display shows Oakley’s history with unusual design — including the aptly named Over The Top model — before reaching the Kato’s unique design, and eventually opening up to reveal the glasses, which are ready to put on.
That’s exactly the kind of theater you expect from a brand like Oakley, but are the Kato worthy of such an introduction? Definitely. The standout design feature here is the way the lens is contoured around the nose, rather than having a cutout like regular sunglasses. It makes the Kato look like a cross between snowboarding goggles and Batman’s cowl. Despite this, there are multiple nose pads to keep the Kato in place, plus Oakley’s ear socks on the arms for increased grip.
Creating the Kato was an extremely complex process, requiring a new fabrication process and molds, and even a new lens adhesive. Oakley has equipped the Kato with its Prizm lenses, which enhance color and contrast, and they come in a variety of colors including a blue and a purple. There’s no doubt wearing the Kato will create quite an impression.
A thousand Team Oakley athletes attending the 2021 Tokyo Olympics in July will wear the Kato, but you don’t have to be at the Games to get them. The Oakley Kato are available to buy from Oakley today for $291. Sadly, you won’t be getting the cool AR pod, but you’ll probably forget all about that when you put these highly unusual sunglasses on.