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GlassUp schools Google Glass on smart specs style (hands-on)

This crowdfunded Google Glass competitor may not have all the chops that Google Glass shows off, but it's a cheaper, more eye-friendly alternative.

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Jessica Dolcourt
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Jessica Dolcourt Editorial Director / CNET Franchises, How-To, Performance Optimization

Jessica Dolcourt leads the CNET Franchises, How-To and Performance Optimization teams. Her career with CNET began in 2006, and spans reviews, reporting, analysis and commentary for desktop software; mobile software, including the very first Android and iPhone apps and operating systems; and mobile hardware, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of practical advice on expansive topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).

Expertise Team leadership, audience engagement, iPhone, Android, iOS, tips and FAQs.
2 min read
GlassUp takes on Google with sporty style
Watch this: GlassUp takes on Google with sporty style

LAS VEGAS -- When it comes to hip eyewear designs, Google and its Glass wearable should take a tip from GlassUp, the crowdfunded IndieGoGo project that was in the works two years before Google co-founder Sergey Brin parachuted from the San Francisco skies wearing the smart frames.

The smartframes, which GlassUp demoed at CES 2014, model a much more sporty style than Google's geeky frames.

Most notably, it features larger lenses and a design that appears more symmetrical by incorporating the head-up display and camera lens into the glasses, rather than poking out.

Display information is beamed into the center of the right lens, unlike Google Glass, whose explorer edition projects information into a lens above your right eye, a placement that caused me a low-level headache and eye strain over time. Unfortunately, the GlassUp prototype model I saw was kludged together, and the plastic lenses hazed up my vision the moment I slipped them on. That didn't help with the 320×240-pixel resolution.

Unfortunately, there's no camera in the basic frames, which are due to Indiegogo backers this summer for $500. Next winter's version is expected to contain a VGA camera and should cost $500.

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GlassUp will features a touch pad with the usual controls (tap, double tap, long press, swipe vertically and horizontally.) There's Bluetooth LE (or low energy) to connect to your iPhone or Android smartphone to see notifications, directions, and much of the stuff you can see with Google Glass. There's an accelerometer, a compass, and an ambient light sensor as well.

GlassUp envisions its use in such scenarios as athletes looking at directions, movie-goers reading subtitles, nurses and doctors in hospital settings reading stats off the screen, and warehouse workers cataloging inventory.

Compared to the $1,500 Google Glass developer model, GlassUp is more stylish and much less expensive. However, Glass has the much stronger resolution (720p) and a 5-megapixel camera that can also record video.

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