When Google makes a product, people pay attention. There's no debate that its $1,500 Google Glass prototype for developers got the smart glasses ball rolling, not to mention inspired a new phrase. When tech-lovers aren't discriminating against Glass' early adopters, they're straining an eye for commercial versions of Glass that will do meaningful things with headup data -- and look cool enough to actually wear in public without fear or shame. We're counting on Google's annual I/O conference for something big to happen.
Sportier than geeky Google Glass, the Italian-based Indiegogo project GlassUp concerns itself more with augmented reality than grabbing photos and video. The company envisions scenarios like cyclists getting directions and museum-goers learning more about a work of art. Backers should receive the basic model of the $500 frames sometime this summer.
Ironically, the best-made pairs of smart glasses we've seen this year weren't made by a hardware player at all. The Lumus DK40 may just be a prototype to interest the optics-maker's potential customers, but Glass rivals have a lot to learn from these sturdy, slightly more stylish frames.
I won't blame you for sneering at the spectacularly bulktastic Ora-S AR smart glasses. Seen in uber-early development at CES, these smart specs care only about one thing right now: getting the best augmented reality experience. The style, they figure, will follow.
Epson isn't a name you'd usually associate with wearables, but its Moverio BT-200 Smart Glasses are actually the second in its smart glasses line. These much slimmer frames target augmented reality like the rest, but at this point keep their crosshairs mostly trained on gaming.
Google, schmoogle. Pivothead has been making camera eyewear for years, and its Pivothead Smart Colfax frames that I slipped on at CES 2014 just refine its lineup. What's unique is its modular approach to features. Slip a small unit over the earpiece, and voila, you've got triple the battery life. The basic frames, minus modules, will cost about $400.
A metal headband and separate HD camera attachment you can wear over either eye are two of what makes Vuzix's M100 Smart Glasses stand out. At $1,000, it isn't cheap, but it is available.
They may look like a pair of mild-mannered frames, but the Weon Glasses are more than they appear. An LED beams out multicolored light when you get an alert, and a companion app helps you find your frames when they go missing. Sure, they aren't the geniuses of the smart specs world, but they'll cost under $200, versus $1,500.
Meta calls them SpaceGlasses, but before the Silicon Valley startup took on Google Glass with its full 3D display, we knew them simply as Meta 3D glasses. Promising a 40-degree field of view and the power to mirror your desktop and phone, on paper, Meta's technology sounds like the largest threat, technologically, for Google to beat -- or buy.
What would you say about making your own pair of frames into a message notifier for just $25? The startup NanoGlass is a simple contraption consisting of a slim fiber optic strip fused with a Bluetooth module. Although it was an Indiegogo project, the page no longer exists; however, you can still learn about the glasses add-on at the company's website.